We are international

February 2004

This past year has been very busy for the IMF's research project, Bank On A Cure®. There are two labs that process the DNA and are doing the studies: one in the UK and the other in the US. Our two Co-Chairs are Dr. Brian Van Ness, Department Head of Genetics, Cell Biology & Development whose lab is in Minneapolis, and Dr. Gareth Morgan. Dr. Morgan, having recently moved to London from the University of Leeds, is now Head of the Myeloma Group at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

All of the data gathering and statistical analysis is being conducted by John Crowley's group, CRAB (Cancer Research and Biostatistics). CRAB is highly respected and renown throughout the world for their myeloma expertise and sophisticated data analysis.

We also are pleased to announce that Dr. Dalsu Baris, a leading NCI-based epidemiologist, and ethicist Dr. Jeff Kahn, Professor of Medicine, Center of Bioethics, University of Minnesota, have joined our Bank On A Cure team.

All of the administrative paperwork is ready for final approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of Minnesota. This is an extremely important facet of the project and has taken longer than initially anticipated. However, it is crucial to protect patients and will determine who will participate in this exciting project.

We are pleased to confirm that collaborations have been established with several important myeloma research groups. They are: SWOG (Southwest Oncology Group), ECOG (East Coast Oncology Group), Mayo Clinic, IFM (Intergroup Francais Myelome), University of Arkansas, the German Myeloma Study Group, The Japanese Myeloma Study Group, Central Europe Myeloma Group, HOVAN (the Netherlands), the Nordic Myeloma Study Group, JEM, Pethma (the Spanish Groups), the Italian Group, the South American Study Group, Fundaleu (Argentina Group), the Canadian Group at the Toronto General Hospital, and the National Canadian Cancer Group.

Bringing these groups together to work collaboratively is truly a milestone in myeloma research and shows the scope, breadth, and belief in the importance of Bank On A Cure!

So, our research teams are in place, and thanks to your support we have purchased a DNA extractor, which is the most critical (and very expensive) piece of equipment needed for this project. We've also begun our research and have run tests on over 2,000 DNA samples, from those patients who have already consented to correlative analyses as part of ongoing clinical trials. Initial observations include correlation between benefit with high-dose melphalan as part of stem cell transplant and the gene regulating body metabolism of melphalan. In addition, gene regulation of TNF alpha production, a crucial body cytokine (or hormone), correlates with response to thalidomide treatment. The goal of identifying personal gene expression patterns that correlate with treatment benefit is well within grasp!

Dr. Brian Van Ness and grad student with
the dedicated robotic DNA processing machine.

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