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Winter 2005/2006 Volume 6, Issue 7:
2006 IMF Brian D. Novis Research Grant Awards
Grant Recipients Honored at IMF Scientific Advisors Meeting.

Grant Recipients Honored at IMF Scientific Advisors Meeting

Senior Research Grants worth $80,000

"Impact of human regulatory T-Cells on the graft-versus-myeloma effect"
Tuna Mutis, MD, PhD
University Medical Center Utrecht
Utrecht, The Netherlands

The effectiveness of stem cell transplantation from suitable donors is limited due to the side effect graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Studies in mice suggest that administration of a specific type of donor blood cells, the "regulatory T-cells", into recipients can prevent GvHD without diminishing the anti-tumor effect. Dr. Mutis and colleagues will explore whether human regulatory T-cells can also separate the anti-myeloma effects of stem cell transplantation from GvHD. These studies will reveal the clinical feasibility and more importantly, the safety of this novel approach to prevent GvHD.

Junior Research Grants worth $40,000

"A novel therapeutic strategy for patients for systemic primary (AL) amyloidosis: Identification of drugs that inhibit light chain fibrillogenesis "
Dr. Brian O'Nuallian
University of Tennessee Medical Center
Knoxville, Tennessee

Currently, there are limited therapeutic options for patients with systemic immunoglobulin light chain (AL) amyloidosis, a disorder that involves the abnormal deposition of antibody light chains, or rarely heavy chains, as discrete insoluble masses (amyloid) within tissues and organs. Thus, the objective of this research is to identify FDA-approved drugs that have promise for 'off-label' use in preventing AL amyloidosis. These drugs will be identified using highly sensitive assays for their capability to prevent amyloid fibril growth. The most promising candidate(s) can then be tested in clinical trials and, if successful, will provide a unique means to prevent amyloid formation.

"Novel Therapeutic Antibodies for Multiple Myeloma"
Dr. Giovanni Tonon
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, Massachusetts

The use of antibodies directed against proteins present on the surface of tumor cells and critical for their survival have recently emerged as one of the most powerful tools available to clinicians to treat cancer. However, the genetic alterations and consequently the identity of the proteins driving multiple myeloma (MM) are largely unknown. Dr. Tonon and colleagues have implemented an integrated oncogenomic approach to identify the spectrum of genetic alterations in a large panel of MM cell lines (n=46) and tumors (n=73). Using stringent bioinformatic algorithms, 10 genes were identified that were within genetic lesions, showed high expression level and possessed structural features of membrane proteins. The significance of each of these genes for MM development and their potential as targets will be evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. The ultimate goal of this research is to provide the scientific and clinical community with a list of thoroughly validated antibody targets, ready to be enlisted into therapeutic antibody development and ultimately translated into drugs capable to impact on patient survival.

Upcoming issues of Myeloma Today will profile research being performed by grant recipients Drs. Agus, Ashihara, Guiliani, and Kisselev.

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