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Multiple Myeloma Foundation Enrolls First Patient in Large Trial Looking at Molecular Drivers of Disease

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The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has enrolled the first participant in a 1,000-patient study aimed at investigating the molecular changes associated with the disease.

The Relating Clinical Outcomes in Multiple Myeloma to Personal Assessment of Genetic Profile, or CoMMpass, trial is part of the MMRF's Personalized Medicine Initiative, through which the group is trying to advance scientific knowledge about the molecular underpinning of disease and translate these insights into clinical strategies and new treatments. CoMMpass aims to enroll at least 1,000 newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients who are treatment naïve.

Researchers will follow patients from initial diagnosis through treatment for at least five years. The five-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 34 percent, the MMRF noted. It is estimated that in 2011, more than 20,000 adults in the US will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and approximately 11,000 people will die from the disease.

Cancer centers enrolling patients for the study include Virginia Cancer Specialists in Fairfax, Va.; John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, NJ; Waverly Hematology Oncology in Cary, NC; and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. The MMRF plans to expand the number of trial sites in coming months.

The study will also build on knowledge gleaned from the Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative, a collaboration between the MMRF, the Broad Institute, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute that is sequencing multiple myeloma genomes. In March, the group published its analysis of 38 MM tumor genomes and matched normal controls in Nature.

The MMRF said it hopes to build on this information "to gain greater understanding of the mechanism of disease and leverage that understanding to develop personalized therapies."

According to MMRF, it has raised more than $170 million for multiple myeloma research since its inception in 1998, which has helped advance 70 new compounds and approaches in clinical trials and pre-clinical investigations.

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