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MMRF, TGen to lead multiple myeloma study
May 2012
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NORWALK, Conn.—The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) recently announced a multi-year oncology research partnership with several partners including the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Spectrum Health and the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). The collaboration will provide a broad range of genomic services and analyses to help drive the success of a landmark 1,000-patient study on the molecular segments and variation of multiple myeloma which has been launched by the MMRF.  
 
Under the agreement, TGen will provide a central hub where patient samples will be analyzed using an unprecedented breadth of genomics platforms. The data to emerge from this work will provide the most comprehensive view of myeloma at the molecular level and will enable the research community to better understand what drives a patient's response to treatment or disease progression and will also generate new leads for targeted drug development.  
 
The MMRF began enrolling patients in the landmark study Relating Clinical Outcomes in MM to Personal Assessment of Genetic Profile—known as CoMMpass—last year through a network of academic and community clinical centers. Study participants will provide an initial tissue sample at the time at which they are newly diagnosed, and will provide follow-up tissue samples at the time of first and additional relapse. Sequential analysis of these tissue samples will shed new light on the relationship between molecular variation and patients' response or resistance to therapy.  
 
"We are proud to support the MMRF's unparalleled research initiative, which has tremendous potential to make a significant difference in the way multiple myeloma is treated," said Dr. John Carpten, professor and director of TGen's Integrated Cancer Genomics division, in a statement. "The rigor and breadth of this effort will enable a much more sophisticated understanding of the molecular changes that give rise to myeloma, and that affect a patient's course of disease. We believe the collective data to emerge along the way will provide an invaluable resource for innovators to design the next significant breakthroughs against this incurable disease."  
 
Analyses during the study will also apply and build on insights from the Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative (MMGI) sequencing project to identify specific subgroups of multiple myeloma patients. For example, the study will involve sequencing tissue samples using techniques perfected in the MMGI and will test for mutations activating the BRAF gene, which were found in a small percentage of multiple myeloma patients in the sequencing project.  
 
"We are excited to build on our earlier partnership with TGen. Their dedicated commitment to multiple myeloma genomic research and earlier achievements will play a critical role in the success of this initiative," said Dr. Louise M. Perkins, chief scientific officer at the MMRF. "The strong collaboration of academia, the clinical community and industry in this landmark project will enable us to translate new information into improved treatment approaches more efficiently and effectively than ever before."
 
TGen will be working with VARI to centrally collect and store tissue samples and extract DNA and RNA from samples for next-generation sequencing analysis including whole-genome and RNA-sequencing. Using the Program for Biospecimen Science and its biorepository at VARI, Dr. Scott Jewell's program will use collection and biobanking best practices to centrally manage the collection and biobanking for this study. VARI will process the specimens, isolate the cancer cell population and prepare derivatives for genomic analysis at TGen. VARI will use the VARI/TGen bioinventory software to assist in the tracking and management of the biospecimens throughout the life of the project.  
 
Spectrum Health, which is accredited by the College of American Pathology and is also a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) laboratory, will provide the BRAF gene analysis and a flow cytometric immunophenotype of each patient's myeloma using state-of-the art analytics in its clinical diagnostics laboratory.  
 
"We are very excited to be a partner in this effort to determine how to conquer this disease," said Lisa A. Shannon, chief operating officer of Spectrum Health Grand Rapids. "This is very important research and we are proud to lend our expertise and experience to the effort. Partnerships like this expand the opportunity for success in conquering diseases like multiple myeloma."  
 
This study is currently enrolling patients at clinical centers throughout the United States.

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