North Hollywood, California, July 27, 2016 -- The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) – the oldest and largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure – says researchers have now established the scientific definition of the essential requirements for a cure in multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells.
The consensus was authored by the members of the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), a research division of the IMF, and published today in The Lancet Oncology. It defines new response categories of minimal residual disease (MRD) negativity in order to standardize testing in patients who are having an excellent response to treatment in clinical trials. The new response criteria update those set by the group in 2006.
“The treatment landscape for multiple myeloma has been radically transformed during the past decade by the introduction of several new drugs with different mechanisms of action,” writes the paper’s lead author, Dr. Shaji Kumar of Mayo Clinic. High rates of complete response in myeloma patients treated with the new drugs called for new categories to identify responses that are deeper than those conventionally defined as complete response.
According to the new IMWG response criteria, MRD negativity that is sustained for at least one year is a key benchmark towards a cure, said IMF Chairman and Co-Founder Dr. Brian Durie, IMWG co-chair. “For the first time, we’ve delineated a framework that can be uniformly applied around the world. It is a critical step as we work toward a cure for this serious cancer.”
Measuring and defining MRD is central to the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®, which was launched in 2012. “The new IMWG consensus paper confirms that the IMF was on the right track when we convened the Black Swan team. Achieving sustained MRD negativity is a key step on the pathway to a cure,” said Dr. Durie.
The 2016 response criteria specify MRD measurement using a combination of flow cytometry or gene sequencing, and sensitive imaging techniques, all of which can quantify any remaining myeloma clones as low as one in a million cells.
Achieving agreement on these criteria from more than 200 top myeloma experts around the world who make up the IMWG took two years and required many rounds of review and input.
“This paper is another landmark accomplishment for the IMWG,” said Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar of Mayo Clinic. “These revised response criteria will be used in clinical practice, research, and in regulatory studies that lead to the approval of new drugs by agencies worldwide.”
IMF President and Co-Founder Susie Novis Durie said: “This important work brings us closer to fulfilling the IMF’s mission – finding a cure for myeloma. We are sincerely grateful to the IMWG members for their tireless contribution to that mission.”
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL MYELOMA FOUNDATION
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) is the oldest and largest foundation focusing specifically on multiple myeloma. The Foundation’s reach extends to more than 400,000 members in 140 countries worldwide. The IMF is dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure by focusing on four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy. The IMF has conducted more than 250 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned InfoLine, and in 2001, established the International Myeloma Working Group® (IMWG®), a collaborative research initiative focused on improving myeloma treatment options for patients. In 2012, the IMF launched the Black Swan Research Initiative®, a groundbreaking research project aimed at curing myeloma. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE (2873). The global website is www.myeloma.org. Follow the IMF on Twitter @IMFmyeloma.