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Annual Report 2017

Seeking to understand the incurable

Dr. Tony Reiman

Through an investment of $5 million from the Terry Fox Research Institute, UNB professor Dr. Tony Reiman is leading a pan-Canadian study on the lives of patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

The first of its kind, the Multiple Myeloma Molecular Monitoring Study is enabling Dr. Reiman’s world-class research team to apply cutting-edge tools of precision and personalized medicine to better characterize, monitor and treat the disease.

Extending quality of life

Multiple myeloma is an aggressive terminal disease with many people living only months after diagnosis, and only 40 per cent are alive after five years. Between 2,000 to 3,000 Canadians are affected by this disease annually.

The goal of the study is to find new treatments for patients whose care should be tailored from the current standard to help save and extend the quality of life for these patients.

“Currently, patients are all treated and monitored the same way. For patients for whom treatment fails, we need to be able to find new ways of doing things to change that. We’re working with sensitive newer techniques to better understand characteristics of the disease that escape our treatments and persist, even during clinical remission. We need to find better ways to kill those cancer cells that survive the initial treatment,” says Dr. Reiman, a medical oncologist and professor at UNB Saint John.

Dr. Reiman hopes the study results will impact the current standard of care and usher in new approaches to identifying, treating and monitoring the disease in patients, including those who are at high risk of relapse.

Research will be taking place in cities all across Canada, including: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Partner sites include the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, the University of Calgary, and the BC Cancer Agency.

The researchers hope that by pairing research and personalized medicine to monitor and treat multiple myeloma it will result in better survival and remission rates.