Introducing the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative
Understanding that the search for a cure for multiple myeloma demands constant innovation, the IMF has launched the Black Swan Research Initiative, a unique project to develop the first definitive cure for myeloma. Led by a multinational consortium of leading myeloma experts, we are bridging the gap from long-term remission to cure.
Why “Black Swan”?
The Black Swan Research Initiative takes its name from the discovery of black swans in 1697, when it was assumed all swans were white. Just as people who had only seen white swans could not imagine the existence of black swans; until very recently, we could only imagine the possibility of finding a cure in our lifetimes. Through the Black Swan Research Initiative, we may soon see the first myeloma patients restored to a normal, healthy life, free of their cancer for the first time ever.
What is Minimal Residual Disease (MRD)?
When a patient is diagnosed with multiple myeloma, conventional wisdom thinks of it as one disease when in reality there are multiple diseases in one. There are many clones of multiple myeloma cells that are present in the same patient. Current treatments for myeloma target the dominant clones, but often leave behind some of the more resistant clones, which may lead to relapse down the line. These leftover cells are the Minimal Residual Disease, or MRD.
Defining the Cure: MRD-Zero
Cancer cures are predominantly defined by waiting a fixed number of years post-remission to see if any cancerous cells emerge. Now, with a new understanding of myeloma at the molecular level, the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative is developing ultra-sensitive tests to accurately measure Minimal Residual Disease and define its absence as a cure.