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Myeloma Foundation Awards Biotech Research Grants

Myeloma cells (NIH)

Myeloma cells (NIH)

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) in Norwalk, Connecticut today announced awards of $1 million to each of three Massachusetts biotech companies through its 2010 Biotech Investment Awards program: Constellation Pharmaceuticals Inc., Epizyme Inc., and Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc. Since the biotech program began in 2006, MMRF funded research at 11 companies leading to treatments for patients with multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that begins in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell. These cells are part of the immune system, which helps protect the body from germs and other harmful substances. In time, myeloma cells collect in the bone marrow and in the solid parts of bone. The exact causes of multiple myeloma are still unknown, but it is more common in older people and African-Americans.

Two of the 2010 biotech awards go to companies involved in the emerging area of epigenetic-based drug development, Constellation and Epizyme. Epigenetic targets have become more important recently in both the development and potential treatment of multiple myeloma. Karyopharm is developing drugs that target cell functions involved in the nuclear import and export of key tumor suppressor and growth regulatory proteins in the cell, activating the body’s own systems for eliminating tumor cells.

Related: Trial Shows Results for Multiple Myeloma Therapy

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