Newswise — Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will establish the Riney Family Multiple Myeloma Initiative to help improve outcomes and accelerate understanding of the underlying biology for the most challenging types of myelomas, cancers that form in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. The initiative is being established with a $16.5 million gift from Paula and Rodger Riney of St. Louis, Missouri.
The gift from the couple’s foundation, the Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation, is their first gift to Dana-Farber, and is the largest single gift from a family to support multiple myeloma cancer research and care in Dana-Farber’s history. The Riney Family Multiple Myeloma Initiative at Dana-Farber will add to their legacy of multiple myeloma support, which includes gifts to Washington University School of Medicine and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), and will improve outcomes for myeloma patients everywhere.
Rodger Riney was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015 and treated at the Washington University School of Medicine and Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. In 2018, Ken Anderson, MD, program director at Dana-Farber’s Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center and LeBow Institute for Myeloma Therapeutics and Kraft Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, joined as an advisor to Riney’s care team.
“As a myeloma patient, you are very aware of the groundbreaking work being done at Dana-Farber in multiple myeloma. Dana-Farber is an institution we want to invest in given its impressive track record in improving myeloma treatment,” said Riney. “Our hope is that this gift will inspire others to support Dana-Farber’s researchers and clinicians to extend survivorship, and ultimately find a cure.”
“We are deeply grateful to the Riney Family for this inspired gift that will quickly advance our knowledge of multiple myeloma. While we have made significant strides in treating multiple myeloma, this initiative provides an opportunity to accelerate the most promising strategies and meaningfully extend remissions,” said Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, President and CEO, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
In the U.S., about four people per 100,000 are diagnosed with multiple myeloma each year. Because of the availability of new and more effective drugs for the treatment of multiple myeloma, the prognosis of some people diagnosed with this condition has improved significantly in recent years, but for other patients the disease remains challenging to treat.
The Riney Family Multiple Myeloma Initiative will support three aims over the next two years:
- Identify and target genomic and epigenomic abnormalities, unraveling the biological determinants of disease behavior in general as well as in certain high-risk multiple myeloma sub groups;
- Develop novel therapeutics to target both tumor cells and the host immune microenvironment, bringing more durable, immune-based combination therapies to patients in the near-term; and
- Create infrastructure for big data management and open access myeloma research resources, catalyzing new collaborations and providing access to novel technologies to improve the way multiple myeloma research is conducted in the future.
“We send our heartfelt thanks to Paula and Rodger for their confidence in our team,” said Anderson. “With their tremendous gift, we have an unprecedented opportunity to develop highly personalized novel targeted and immune treatments for patients facing the most challenging forms of this disease. Their extraordinary support will foster collaborative efforts to benefit patients and their families world-wide.”
Dana-Farber is a global referral center providing highly personalized comprehensive care and promising new therapies to people with multiple myeloma, focusing on diagnostics, treatment planning, therapy, and research. Under Anderson’s leadership, Dana-Farber’s dedicated team of laboratory investigators and physicians have changed the fundamental understanding of the mechanics of this disease, leading to effective new treatments.
Dana-Farber’s multiple myeloma team has been instrumental in securing federal approval of 22 of the 26 new therapies and indications approved in the last 14 years—an unparalleled success rate that has prolonged the lives of many patients by three-to-four-fold.