EDIT 3/27/2013: Over the past few weeks I have received many comments my two most recent blogs. I apologize for not responding to your comments and questions. Please know that they are very important to me. I am travelling to the International Myeloma Workshop in Kyoto, Japan, and will respond on my return. In the meantime, if you have a medical question, please contact the IMF Hotline at 1-800-452-CURE (2873).
On Tuesday, March 12, we were excited to announce the launch of the IMF's BLACK SWAN RESEARCH INITIATIVE (BSRI) to develop the first definitive cure for myeloma. The BSRI now joins the groundbreaking and innovative myeloma research the IMF has actively supported for more than twenty years.
Gratifyingly, the launch announcement is generating lots of enthusiasm ("Bring it on!" reads a post on our Facebook Page). It has also prompted questions from some patients who want to know how the BSRI will affect them depending on whether they are newly diagnosed or were diagnosed many years ago.
Let me explain by reviewing the key components of the Black Swan Research Initiative.
A combination of new myeloma treatment options available now and the availability of ultra-sensitive means of measuring the disease has set the stage for this unique approach to research.
Within the new paradigm of the BSRI, the definitive key to the cure is something we call MRD-Zero. MRD stands for Minimal Residual Disease, and by measuring minimal residual disease we can determine how close a patient is to being cured of myeloma. With no detectable MRD, we are there.
Sophisticated, ultra-sensitive testing tools that can measure MRD on cellular and molecular levels will allow researchers to study individual myeloma patients at all stages to determine which treatments given at which times yield the best results. The best results, of course, will be the eradication of all residual disease.
Armed with that knowledge, acquired through clinical trials, we can begin to develop a cure for all myeloma patients.
The BSRI announcement focused on one avenue of curing myeloma for a subset of patients, but it is only the first step of many to come. Initial work began on the Black Swan Research Initiative in the summer of 2012, and while some early results are promising, a number of important ramifications will be revealed moving forward.
The important point in our announcement this week was to set out the framework for the Black Swan Research Initiative's unique approach to a cure. Now that we have, we hope you are as excited as we are to see what materializes as we unlock the mysteries of myeloma. Our goal is to have testing in place and clinical trials ready to start by year's end.