In the first part of our Q&A with Chris Williams, of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, we spoke with him on the current initiatives and resources available to patients.
BY Kristie L. Kahl
While the treatment landscape for multiple myeloma
continues to grow, one organization is solely focused on ensuring patients are equipped with precisely what they need to treat their disease.
“We highly recommend you have the right team, the right test taken, which would allow you to have the right treatment,” Chris Williams, vice president of business development at the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
(MMRF), said in an interview with CURE®
In the interview, Williams went on to discuss the various trials currently going on, as well as a new tool available to patients to help them pick the right treatment
option for them.
CURE®: Can you briefly describe what the MMRF does and what its mission is?
The mission of the MMRF is to engage every patient and to give them precisely what they need for the cure of their disease. We say precisely because we are a leader in precision medicine, so we track the genetics behind each patient’s disease and try to match them with the appropriate therapy given for that genetic background.
Can you tell us about the trials going on with the MMRF?
COMPASS is a trial that was started in 2011 and it looks at newly-diagnosed patients. When the patients are diagnosed, we take a bone marrow sample from them and we sequence that. As the patient progresses through their disease, when they go into remission, as they come out of that remission, we again contact the patient through their doctor and take another biological sequencing sample. We’ve been doing that since 2011. The trial stopped accruing in 2015 with 1,054 patients who we have that biological genomic data on each one of those patients. Today it is considered the single largest genomic data set of anyone with cancer in the world.
The (My Drug) trial is a new and innovative trial that we just launched in 2018, and it is a category of trials called platform trials where there (are multiple arms). This one happens to be a five-arm trial where we get patients as they come into the trial, we sequence them and we look at the single-gene mutations that are treated with the appropriate matching drug from pharmaceutical companies. After a few rounds of that treatment, they are then reflexed to a myeloma backbone treatment to treat their myeloma. It is an innovative trial in that it is multi-arm, and it is an evergreen trial, meaning it goes on and on, and it is also what they consider a cassette trial where you can pull these different arms in and out depending on the signal that is right. It is the first trial of its kind in the myeloma community.
Can you discuss what the MMRF CureCloud is and how it can help patients?
The CureCloud is a very new, innovative program that we put together. The CureCloud is actually the name given to the overarching aspect of this program. It is basically of two parts. It is an area where we have consolidated all of our data into a cloud platform and other data we have collected genomically and other types of assays we have collected throughout the years, is all in the cloud and can be accessed in many ways. The CureCloud data can be accessed in many ways. One way it can be access is through clinicians and physicians that can look at the raw data and make new discoveries through the medical tools that are available. In the future, there will be ways that doctors and physicians can access the data as a physician support tool or talk to their patients about myeloma data, and there is actually going to be a way in the very near future to look at this data so they can compare themselves, their disease, their journey, to other patients in the same community. So, the CureCloud, in one aspect, houses all of this data. One piece of the CureCloud that will contribute data is what we call direct-to-patient registry. Patients will be able to go on to register; there is a specific address where they can go, which we will be releasing to the public in one or two months. They can log on and sign up and say they want to be a part of the registry. That will allow them to consent us to get a blood sample from them that we can send for lab sequencing, and also blood will be used for looking at their immune repertoire in myeloma. We will also then, in that same consent, be able to take their electronic health record and abstract pertinent myeloma information from that and combine all of those things together: the immune data, the genetic data and the electronic health record data to get a better picture of their disease. Then the patient can work with their doctor to look at better treatment options or what the next steps can be in their journey.