The Canadian Myeloma PSP: Funding Opportunity and Current Research

Published: 03 February 2023

The Canadian Myeloma Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) was established in 2019 to identify the priorities for multiple myeloma research in Canada, determined by people with myeloma, their caregivers, and healthcare providers.

The Canadian Myeloma PSP was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Horizon Health Network, the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU), and Myeloma Canada, a national charitable organization created by and for Canadians impacted by multiple myeloma.

The Canadian Myeloma PSP followed the rigorous methodology developed by the JLA to identify the Top 10 research questions about the diagnosis, treatment, management, and living well with myeloma. The resulting Top 10 list was published in the British Journal of Haematology to raise awareness among myeloma clinicians and researchers.

Top Ten Priorities for Multiple Myeloma Research in Canada

  1. How can we cure myeloma?

  2. Are novel immunotherapies effective for the treatment of myeloma?

  3. How can we improve the diagnosis (e.g. faster, less invasive) of myeloma, and what is the impact of earlier diagnosis on patient outcomes?

  4. What are new treatments for myeloma patients that will improve life expectancy with fewer adverse side effects?

  5. How can we personalise a patients treatment based on their type of myeloma and genetic profile, and what is the impact of personalised medicine on treatment efficacy and disease outcomes?

  6. How can we prevent bone deterioration and/or repair bones that have been damaged without negative side effects or surgery?

  7. How can we safely reduce, cycle or stop the use of anti-myeloma medications to reduce side effects of treatment and maintain control over myeloma?

  8. How can we reduce or manage the short-and long-term adverse effects of myeloma treatment?

  9. What is the most effective way (i.e., drug companies, sequence, frequency and intensity) to treat refractory, relapsed, and drug resistant myeloma?

  10. Can we develop treatments specifically for high risk or aggressive myeloma that will improve outcomes for these patients? 

Furthermore, Myeloma Canada established the Aldo Del Col Research Grant to fund research projects addressing one or more of the Top 10 questions. The goal of the program is to reduce the knowledge gaps concerning the diagnosis and treatment of myeloma (and/or related plasma cell disorders) identified through the Canadian Myeloma PSP. In its inaugural year, the Aldo Del Col Research Grant awarded $150,000 funding to two research projects addressing specific priorities established by the PSP.

Dr. Visram and her research team at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute are using the grant funding to develop an effective and accessible CAR-NK therapy, an innovative immunotherapy with the ability to target specific cancers and reduce the neurological side effects associated with other biologic therapies. They hope that once optimized, this therapy will be tested in a clinical trial with Canadian myeloma patients. This research addresses Top 10 priorities #1 (How can we find a cure for myeloma?) and #2 (Are novel immunotherapies effective for the treatment of myeloma?).

From the University of Alberta and Cancer Care Alberta, Dr. McNeely, research associates, and patient advisers are addressing priority #8 of the Canadian Myeloma PSP (How can we reduce or manage the short- and long-term effects of myeloma treatment?). To do this, their study will test virtual technology to support exercise as an accessible intervention for individuals living with myeloma during the induction treatment phase to better prepare and enable them to withstand and recover from a stem cell transplant.

The funding made available by Myeloma Canada through the Aldo Del Col Research Grant will directly benefit patients, caregivers, and clinicians within the myeloma community. Our aim with the project was to shape the future of myeloma research in Canada by funding research that matters to the myeloma community. The creation of the Aldo Del Col Research Grant is an important first step towards this goal. The projects highlighted here are only the beginning; we are excited to discover forthcoming research aimed at more of the Top 10 myeloma priorities and ultimately improve the lives of people affected by this disease.

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