On June 7, 2000, the IMF announced the preliminary results of its St. John’s Retreat – Think Tank 2000, a two-day forum attended by many of the world’s leading researchers. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the current state of myeloma research and reach a consensus as to the most promising areas for future study. Recommendations will be presented to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Attendees included: Joan Bladé, M.D. (Spain); Brian G.M. Durie, M.D. (US); Howard Urnovitz, Ph.D. (US); Douglas Joshua, M.D. (Australia); Robert A. Kyle, M.D. (US); Atul Mehta, M.D. (England); Prof. Luc Montagnier (France); Gareth Morgan, M.D. (England); Gregory R. Mundy, M.D. (US); William Murphy, Ph.D. (US); Martin M. Oken, M.D. (US); Ray Powles, M.D. (England); Jesus San Miguel, M.D. (Spain); Pieter Sonneveld, M.D. (Netherlands); and Brian Van Ness, Ph.D. (US).
In April, multiple myeloma was added to the NCI’s Progress Review Group (PRG) on leukemia and lymphoma. The Think Tank 2000 convened to review the progress of myeloma research and make recommendations to the NCI. The collective discussions of the participants, ranging from genetics and oncogenes to viruses and novel therapies, will allow the IMF to present solid recommendations regarding some of the most promising new areas for future myeloma research.
The full recommendations will be presented in the coming weeks, following a period of follow-up and the submission of summary papers from each participant. The initial outcome includes the following recommendations:
- New Classification for Multiple Myeloma Patients
The development of a new International Prognostic Index (IPI) for classifying multiple myeloma patients with respect to patient outcome. The new system will provide a solid basis for clinical correlation with DNA and RNA expression patterns and will lead to a better understanding of the underlying biology of the basic disease. The goal is to identify specific groups of patients who will be candidates for targeted therapies that are directed to specific DNA/RNA patterns. In addition to the IPI, the group has proposed the development of new criteria for myeloma diagnosis and response to treatment. The proposed new criteria will aim to eliminate the current confusion between "early" vs. "smoldering/indolent" myeloma. Since reported survival is typically from the "slant of treatment," there is an added difficulty in interpreting outcomes. The reliable assessment of magnitude and length of response/remission is also a major goal.
- Development of a Cooperative Tissue Bank for Myeloma Research
Due to the proprietary nature of individual research centers’ tissue banks, it is often difficult for researchers to gain access to the bone marrow, blood and biopsy samples necessary for advancing research projects. The ability to access tissue samples contributes to a greater understanding of the genetic make-up and biology of the disease and will lead to the development of new, targeted therapies. It was proposed that a collaborative effort be implemented to ensure reliable access to these critical tissue samples. The goal is to interface patient registry information with tissue sample analysis and risk assessment, including studies of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). To better meet the needs of the myeloma community, based on the recommendations of the group, the IMF will work closely with the research team throughout the coming months to assist in the development of an IPI and Collaborative Tissue Bank. Working groups, comprised of researchers from Think Tank 2000 as well as other noted myeloma specialists not present at the meeting, are being established to implement the recommendations.
The role of the IMF is not only to meet the educational and emotional needs of the patient population, but to serve as a valuable resource for the medical community as well. We are being proactive, capitalizing on our ability to organize this dynamic collaboration of world experts to assess the current state of myeloma research. Based on the positive outcome of Think Tank 2000, we hope to see significant progress in myeloma research in the near future.
The full proceedings of the IMF’s Think Tank 2000 will be made available in the near future. Based on positive feedback from attendees, the IMF plans to host the next Think Tanks retreat in June 2002.
For more information, please call the IMF at (800) 452-CURE or visit our website at www.myeloma.org.