North Hollywood, California, April 12, 2016 —The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) – the largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and a cure – is excited to announce that it is funding the first large-scale screening study aimed at preventing myeloma before it develops.
The study, iStopMM (Iceland Screens Treats or Prevents Multiple Myeloma), will examine blood samples from approximately 140,000 adults over age 40 in Iceland for the earliest signs of myeloma. A cancer of the blood plasma cells that affects approximately 90,000 people in the US, and more than 200,000 people around the world, myeloma can go undiagnosed until the disease begins to seriously damage health.
“We are incredibly pleased to support the iStopMM project because we strongly believe that early treatment strategies could lead to the cure for myeloma,” IMF Chairman and Co-Founder Dr. Brian Durie said. Dr. Durie leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®, a collaborative project to find a pathway to a cure for myeloma that currently supports more than 35 myeloma research efforts around the world.
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 140,000 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.
“The IMF is excited to fund this study, which will finally shed light on how we can stop myeloma at its earliest stage before it progresses into full-blown cancer,” said IMF President and Co-Founder Susie Novis Durie.
While most MGUS cases are never diagnosed, it is estimated that 4% of people over the age of 50 have MGUS. “The impact of early diagnosis in a whole population is a very ambitious and challenging goal,” said Dr. Kristinsson. “With more potent therapies available with fewer side effects, it is very likely that treatment of precursor states will be shown to improve survival and quality of life in smoldering and MGUS patients.”
Binding Site, a UK-based maker of diagnostic assays, will perform the study’s initial screening phase, utilizing the Freelite® immunoassays and automated electrophoresis testing equipment, according to Dr. Stephen Harding, the company’s R&D Director. The study’s co-principal investigator, Dr. Ola Landgren, Chief of Myeloma Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and his team will perform the molecular characterization of MGUS cases based on DNA sequencing of abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow.
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.
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