--Will Study Circulating DNA as a Marker for and Potential Cause of Disease Recurrence--
North Hollywood, CA, Nov 18, 2008 - The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) today announced plans to establish a research partnership between IMF chairman Brian G.M. Durie, M.D.; Luc Montagnier, M.D., co-recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in medicine; and Howard Urnovitz, Ph.D., CEO of Chronix Biomedical. The collaboration will study cancers that affect the immune system including multiple myeloma, a cancer of cells in the bone marrow. The partnership will build on Dr. Montagnier's pioneering work with HIV; both AIDS and myeloma involve white blood cells in the immune system, and to date cannot be cured. Dr. Urnovitz studies genetic changes that take place over the course of a disease and uses the findings to aid in the diagnosis of cancer.
Their collaborative work will focus on circulating nucleic acids—genomic sequences of DNA and RNA that travel in the blood stream—and the emerging understanding of their role in disease. In an abstract published in connection with the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, Drs. Durie and Urnovitz report they have identified specific DNA sequences circulating in the blood of multiple myeloma patients that increase or decrease as the myeloma moves in and out of remission. While they look at DNA sequences that originate within the body, Dr. Montagnier will contribute new technology to the collaboration that can detect external DNA sequences related to infectious agents.
"These are intriguing biomarkers that point to processes underlying disease states," said Dr. Montagnier who is best known for his role in discovering the virus that causes AIDS. "They may be a sign of a persistent infectious process or may even be the cause. New technology I am developing to detect infectious disease agents at a new level of sensitivity is one of the key factors that will advance our ability to study diseases such as multiple myeloma."
Dr. Durie added: "Tests for these DNA sequences circulating in the blood may become an important tool for physicians, telling them when disease is starting to recur so they know when to intervene. A greater understanding of these DNA sequences may also tell us whether we should be attacking the cancer cells, as we do now, or whether we should be looking for an underlying agent that may be the cause of the cancer and its recurrence."
Plans for the collaboration will allow all three partners to support each other, while each group will retain the rights to their own specific areas of research. For Dr. Montagnier this is the role of infectious agents, for Dr. Urnovitz the role of genetic changes, and for Dr. Durie this is applications of the findings to cancer.
Dr. Urnovitz says, "This work is made possible by powerful new technology. At Chronix we are publishing a paper about the first application of new mass-sequencing technology in the detection of chronic illnesses. Our approach coupled with Dr. Montagnier's new technology will give us new opportunities to measure genomic biomarkers while detecting infectious agents. This research partnership will utilize the combination of these new biotechnologic tools, allowing us to design new approaches in the treatment and prevention of cancer."
The relationship will be a global collaboration with Dr. Durie in the U.S., Dr. Montagnier based in France and Dr. Urnovitz based at Chronix Biomedical in Germany.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL MYELOMA FOUNDATION
The International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest multiple myeloma organization, reaching more than 185,000 members in 113 countries worldwide. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses in four key areas: research, education, support and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 200 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and operates Bank on a Cure®, a unique gene bank to advance myeloma research. The IMF was rated as the number one resource for patients in an independent survey by the Target Research Group. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE, or out of the United States at +1-818-487-7455. More information is available at www.myeloma.org.
Media Contact: Stephen Gendel or Jennifer Anderson 212-918-4650