Introducing the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®
Understanding that the search for a cure for multiple myeloma demands constant innovation, the IMF has launched the Black Swan Research Initiative®, a unique project to develop the first definitive cure for myeloma. Led by a multinational consortium of leading myeloma experts, we are bridging the gap from long-term remission to cure.
Why “Black Swan”?
The Black Swan Research Initiative takes its name from the discovery of black swans in 1697, when it was assumed all swans were white. Just as people who had only seen white swans could not imagine the existence of black swans; until very recently, we could only imagine the possibility of finding a cure in our lifetimes. Through the Black Swan Research Initiative, we may soon see the first myeloma patients restored to a normal, healthy life, free of their cancer for the first time ever.
What is Minimal Residual Disease (MRD)?
When a patient is diagnosed with multiple myeloma, conventional wisdom thinks of it as one disease when in reality there are multiple diseases in one. There are many clones of multiple myeloma cells that are present in the same patient. Current treatments for myeloma target the dominant clones, but often leave behind some of the more resistant clones, which may lead to relapse down the line. These leftover cells are the Minimal Residual Disease, or MRD.
Defining the Cure: MRD-Zero®
Cancer cures are predominantly defined by waiting a fixed number of years post-remission to see if any cancerous cells emerge. Now, with a new understanding of myeloma at the molecular level, the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative is developing ultra-sensitive tests to accurately measure Minimal Residual Disease and define its absence as a cure.
(Iceland Screens Treats or Prevents Multiple Myeloma)
The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) is excited to announce that it is funding the first large-scale screening study aimed at preventing myeloma before it develops. Spearheaded by the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®, iStopMM (Iceland Screens Treats or Prevents Multiple Myeloma), is a study that examines blood samples from approximately 120,000 adults over age 40 in Iceland for the earliest signs of myeloma. Because nearly all citizens of Iceland over age 40 undergo routine blood tests, the country is an ideal setting for such research. After obtaining informed consent over the next few months of 2016, project leader Dr. Sigurdur Kristinsson of the University of Iceland and his team will screen blood samples from approximately 120,000 individuals for the precursors to myeloma – MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) and smoldering myeloma. Those individuals diagnosed with the precursors will then be invited to participate in a randomized clinical trial to identify the best strategy for treatment and to create a new risk model for disease progression.