A new year is often characterized by renewed hope, promises kept, and a sense of energy and purpose. In the world of nonprofit cancer research, it is all this and so much more. It is also an opportune time to accelerate progress toward our ultimate goal: finding the cure.
The International Myeloma Foundation launched headfirst into 2018, building upon the successes achieved in the past 12 months and – as always – learning from the challenges.
Our commitment has always been to put an end to myeloma, and we’re thrilled that we are now able to say that we are on the cusp of finding that elusive cure for this disease. It’s also important to recognize that a cure will not look the same for every patient. As we’ve discovered, the “multiple” in multiple myeloma refers to the various forms this complex disease can take, and there will not be a one-size-fits-all cure.
For some, a cure may come from early detection and prevention, which is the focus of the iStopMM project funded through the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative.® In 2017, this project celebrated its one-year anniversary. Since its launch in October 2016, over 80,000 Icelanders enthusiastically opted in to participate in the study and approximately 1,000 new cases of MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) were diagnosed.
For others, the cure may be a three-drug cocktail that results in zero Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) after treatment – a feat which our researchers are hoping to prove as a surrogate endpoint to cure. The IMF-funded CESAR “cure” trial in Spain has fully accrued and demonstrated that Kyprolis® (carfilzomib) + Revlimid® (lenalidomide) + dexamethasone (KRd) and autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) in high-risk smoldering myeloma has been well tolerated with 100% response rate.
In addition, IMF is funding another “cure” trial – the ASCENT trial, which is taking place in the United States, and is about to begin under the direction of Dr. Shaji Kumar of the Mayo Clinic, who is also a prominent member of the International Myeloma Working Group and BSRI research team. This trial will test KRd + Darzalex® (daratumumab) with/without ASCT in high-risk smoldering patients. We are excited to launch this critical study and compare the results with those from the CESAR trial.
This past year marked a major milestone in IMF research towards a cure. We have launched over 40 simultaneous research projects – outlined as part of phase II of the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative. In 2018, the IMF will launch into phase III of BSRI, which is extremely important, as it’s the study of resistant disease.
All of this is possible thanks to your overwhelming generosity – sharing our passion and supporting our mission to find the cure! As we move forward into 2018, you will see other advances at the IMF. We will continue to excel and further our reach in the areas of myeloma research, patient education, and support, and we’ll be timely in communicating our progress with you.
We want to hear from you. Your feedback is important – so whether you engage with us on social media, submit feedback about any of our educational events, or call the IMF to speak with our InfoLine team, we welcome your thoughts and comments. You are the driving force behind the IMF’s mission.
Thanks to your support, 2018 will be a year of great progress!
Susie Durie, President & CEO