Stephen and Nancy Grand committed the $4.5 million for in-depth genomic and proteomic studies that are expected to clarify key disease mechanisms and details about myeloma that will be translated into clinical care.
Genomics is the study of the genes in a living organism and their activities and interactions with each other and the environment. Proteomics is the study of the level and activity of an organism’s proteins Stephen Grand has been treated at the Myeloma Institute since 2006. Last year, the Grands donated $300,000 to the Myeloma Institute toward development of ellipticine, a plant alkaloid as a new therapeutic agent. The Nancy and Stephen Grand Laboratory for Myeloma Proteomics, headed by Ricky D. Edmondson, Ph.D., will be the first in the country with sophisticated mass spectrometry equipment dedicated to thorough analysis of the proteins produced by myeloma tumor cells and bone marrow cells.
The new Myeloma Institute laboratory will be located in UAMS’ Arkansas Cancer Research Center. New techniques applied to the Myeloma Institute’s vast archive of patient tissue samples will yield data that will enable researchers to more effectively use current treatments and develop interventions based on unique features of each patient’s disease.
John D. Shaughnessy Jr., Ph.D., professor of medicine will lead the studies. Shaughnessy is director of Basic Research and director of the Lambert Laboratory of Myeloma Genetics at the Myeloma Institute.
“I am extremely grateful to Stephen and Nancy Grand for their tremendous vote of confidence in our research strategies and vision. We believe this research will lead to therapies that will increase the number of patients who remain disease-free long-term and can be considered cured,” Shaughnessy said.
Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is the second largest of the blood cancers, affecting an estimated 750,000 people worldwide.
“Having been treated at the Myeloma Institute for the last year, my wife and I have come to know Dr. Barlogie, Dr. Shaughnessy and many of the staff, and observe the dedication of the entire organization to the treatment and hopefully the cure of myeloma,” Stephen Grand said.
“We feel that supporting the research efforts here at UAMS is the best investment we can make in furthering progress in this important battle and we are confident that in time, major progress will be made,” Grand said.
“We know that many pioneering efforts have already been achieved and we know more will be accomplished in the future. It is our pleasure to participate in the effort.”
Bart Barlogie, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Myeloma Institute said the hallmark of the institute has been a focus on a cure.
“About 10 percent of our patients have been continuously in remission for 15 years, and we have evidence of progress that should translate into 10-year survival for up to 50 percent of our patients,” Barlogie said.
“As we are now able, through Stephen and Nancy Grand’s generosity, to further dissect the nuances of myeloma, I see us better equipped to fine-tune treatment to assure longevity.”