Myeloma Canada is excited to share with our community the amazing news of the decision by the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) to invest $5 million in the New Brunswick-led Multiple Myeloma Molecular Monitoring (M4) study.
The $5-million investment was announced on February 22, 2017 at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) by Dr Victor Ling, TFRI President and Scientific Director. The pan-Canadian team of researchers and clinicians will be led by Dr Tony Reiman, a medical oncologist and professor at UNB, who is also a member of the Myeloma Canada Research Network (MCRN) and the Myeloma Canada Board of Directors. The five-year study involves researchers in several academic centres, including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.
The M4 study will include 250 myeloma patients and look at how advanced precision medicine tools such as immunoglobulin gene sequencing, multi-parameter flow cytometry, circulating tumour DNA analysis, PET scans and novel drug resistance assays could improve, and potentially save, the lives of patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Dr Ling hopes this strategy will result in more lives saved.
Dr Reiman shared with the audience why this research was so important for patients. "We're working with newer and more sensitive techniques to better understand the characteristics of the disease that escape our treatments and persist, even during clinical remission, that are going to eventually cause the patient to have a relapse, so we can find better ways to kill those cancer cells that survive the initial treatment.
Those patients are going to provide us with information about their disease and how things go with their treatment. They are going to provide us with blood and bone marrow for the research. There will be research laboratories across Canada working with this material provided by these patients to better understand their disease, particularly the bits of their disease that survive treatment and eventually cause relapse," Dr Reiman said.
Among the principal investigators involved in the research project are Myeloma Canada Research Network members Dr Donna Reece and Dr Suzanne Trudel (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre) and Dr Nizar Bahlis (University of Calgary). MCRN co-investigators include Dr Rodger Tiedemann (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre) and Dr Christopher Venner (Cross Cancer Institute). Also particpating in the study are Dr Darrell White (QE II Health Sciences Centre); Dr Richard LeBlanc (Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital); Dr Michael Sebag (McGill University Health Centre); Dr Arleigh McCurdy (Ottawa Hospital); Dr Rami Kotb (CancerCare Manitoba); and Dr Kevin Song and Dr Heather Sutherland (Vancouver General Hoisptal). Other researchers include Dr François Bénard (University of British Columbia); Dr Trevor Pugh (University of Toronto); Dr Matthew Cheung (Sunnybrook Hospital); Dr Jonathan Sussman (Juravinski Cancer Centre); and
Dr Yagang Xie (Saint John Regional Hospital).
Aldo Del Col, Co-founder & Chairman, Myeloma Canada and a co-investigator in the study, is especially excited about the possibility of being able to use an evidence-based approach to the personalization of myeloma treatments. "We all know that myeloma is a heterogeneous disease, but for the most part, all patients are being treated with the same approach, resulting in the potential over-treatment of some and under treatment of others. The M4 study will provide evidence to better guide clinicians in their assessment and treatment decisions. Moreover, I am proud of the notable involvement of members of the Myeloma Canada Research Network in this important study," stated Mr Del Col.
Susan Collins, a multiple myeloma patient and leader of the Saint John & Area Multiple Myeloma Support Group shared her thoughts about how this study gives her hope for the future. "Hope is what sustains all myeloma patients. We hope for a better quality of life and survival until the time when doctors tell their patients myeloma is treatable and curable. Research offers hope for a cure and, in a small way, by supporting studies like this one, I feel I am making a contribution to unlocking the doors to a cure," said Ms Collins.
On behalf of Myeloma Canada and the Canadian myeloma community, we would like to thank the Terry Fox Research Institute for their foresight in supporting a pan-Canadian myeloma research project that will help myeloma patient achieve better outcomes, and congratulate Dr Reiman and the team at the University of New Brunswick for successfully leading this ground-breaking Canadian myeloma research project.