Late Fall 2022
By Robin Orwant
The International Myeloma Society (IMS) recently awarded three Dana-Farber scientists grants totaling $525,000 to promote research on the blood cancer multiple myeloma.
Jens Lohr, MD, PhD, and Eric Smith, MD, PhD, director of translational research in the Immune Effector Cell Therapy Program, received the IMS and Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation Translational Research Award, which supports translational investigations aimed at improving the prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of multiple myeloma. Jean-Baptiste Alberge, PhD, received the IMS Career Development Award, which seeks to foster the academic careers of young scientists pursuing multiple myeloma research and to promote the next generation of leaders in this field.
Lohr is developing methods to detect genetic and molecular changes in myeloma cells over time by analyzing patient blood samples. This “liquid biopsy” approach, which could inform treatment decisions and predict patient outcomes, promises to be more accurate and less invasive than standard methods, which rely on the analysis of bone marrow samples.
Smith is generating novel agents that target two different molecules found predominantly on myeloma cells. He hopes that these agents, when incorporated into disease-fighting immune cells, will induce an extremely potent anti-myeloma immune response in patients.
Alberge is exploring whether genetic changes can predict disease progression in patients with smoldering myeloma—a condition that often precedes myeloma. He is also working to create a model that will assess the risk of progression in individual patients based on their clinical, molecular, and immune characteristics.
“I’m extremely grateful to the IMS for giving me the opportunity to pursue this exciting research, which is helping me to establish my career as an independent investigator,” said Alberge.
“Our mission is to cure myeloma by building a global myeloma community, promoting education, fostering clinical and translational research, and assuring excellence in clinical care worldwide,” said IMS president Nikhil Munshi, MD, who is also director of basic and correlative science at the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center and the Kraft Family Chair at Dana-Farber. “We are pleased to support these innovative projects, which promise to advance the field and improve patient outcomes.”