The Terry Fox Research Institute invested $5 million for New Brunswick researchers and their colleagues at other cancer centres across Canada to study how new precision medicine tools could improve, and potentially save, the lives of patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
The funding will enable the research team to apply cutting-edge tools of precision and personalized medicine to better characterize, monitor, and treat the disease over time, with the goal of identifying patients whose treatments should be tailored from the current standard of care for the best outcomes possible. This is the Terry Fox Research Institute’s first pan-Canadian study led from New Brunswick.
Dr Tony Reiman, a medical oncologist and professor at the University of New Brunswick, will lead the team, which comprises researchers and clinicians at multiple sites including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. He hopes the 5-year study will result in new approaches to identifying, treating, and monitoring the disease in patients, including those who are at high risk of relapse. He hopes their work will bring strong, evidence-based results that impact the current standard of care.
Researchers are working with sensitive new techniques to better understand characteristics of the disease that escape current treatments and persist, even during clinical remission, and eventually cause the patient to have a relapse, so that they can find better ways to kill those cancer cells that survive the initial treatment.
The team in Saint John will organize all the participating centres as well as conduct its own research and receive and bank specimens (blood and marrow) from the 250 myeloma patients that will participate in the project. Study team members will use tests based on advanced techniques like immunoglobulin gene sequencing, multiparameter flow cytometry, PET scans, circulating tumor DNA analysis, and novel drug-resistance assays to evaluate the patient specimens and other biosamples.
Principal investigators at the partner sites are Drs Donna Reece and Suzanne Trudel, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre; Dr Nizar Bahlis, University of Calgary; and Dr François Bénard, BC Cancer Agency. Patients will be recruited by the study investigators at their own sites.
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