Moffitt Cancer Center, Signal Genetics to conduct 'precision medicine' study of myeloma patients

Tampa, FL's Moffitt Cancer Center is collaborating with Signal Genetics ($SGNL) on a study of its MyPRS multiple myeloma diagnostic, aimed at positioning the center to be a beneficiary of President Obama's $215 million Precision Medicine initiative.

With the assistance of doctors from Moffitt, Signal will use patient specimens to further validate the MyPRS test as a guide to treatment decisions among multiple myeloma patients. The diagnostic is used to stratify such patients based on the severity of the disease and the cancer's genetic alterations, for indolent myeloma may not need treatment, while aggressive versions need stronger treatment regimens.

"We anticipate that these studies will yield data demonstrating the power of genetics to enable 'precision medicine' in the multiple myeloma field, consistent with Moffitt Cancer Center's vision to be aligned with the Precision Medicine Initiative outlined by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)," said study investigator Dr. Melissa Alsina of the Moffitt Cancer Center, in a statement.

Moffitt's Dr. Kenneth Shain added that precursor conditions of the disease, known as asymptomatic monoclonal gammopathies (AMG), have been managed suboptimally due to the use of outdated clinical metrics, saying in a statement, "Validation of MyPRS in this setting may eventually have a significant impact on the management of over 3 million patients in the U.S. that present on the AMG spectrum each year."

Signal and Moffitt will begin work on the project this year and plan to present their findings at scientific conferences and in medical journals.

The study should highlight an important aspect of diagnostics. Disease subtyping among patients with an already diagnosed cancer (or other disease) can lead to personalized, or "precision," medicine. Such an approach enables treatment decisions based on an individual's condition and particular manifestation of the disease.

President Obama's announced the Precision Medicine initiative during the State of the Union to much fanfare, although few details were given at the time.

According to a fact sheet released in January, the proposal in the 2016 budget calls for $130 million in funding for the National Institutes of Health to develop a voluntary national research cohort and $70 million for the National Cancer Institute "to scale up efforts to identify genomic drivers in cancer and apply that knowledge in the development of more effective approaches to cancer treatment."

- read the release
- here's more about the MyPRS test
- here's more about the Precision Medicine Initiative from the NIH