Celgene, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences have collaboratively launched a new initiative known as the Myeloma Genome Project.

The project is aimed at developing clinically relevant tests and will create the largest dataset containing high-quality genomic and clinical data to identify distinct molecular disease segments within multiple myeloma to facilitate advanced diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of multiple myeloma patients.

Celgene executive vice-president and chief scientific officer Rob Hershberg said: "Understanding the various subgroups within multiple myeloma that exhibit distinct pathogenesis and clinical behaviour is critical when looking to advance new therapies, particularly when considering a targeted approach.

"We look forward to the insights that this collaboration will provide for research and for patients."

While the current technologies discovered five major translocation groups within myeloma patients, the Myeloma Genome Project will explore minor translocation and mutational groups that are often inadequately expressed due to small sample numbers in limited data sets.

"We look forward to the insights that this collaboration will provide for research and for patients."

The group has involved 2,161 patients, for which whole exome sequencing (WES; n=1,436), whole genome sequencing (WGS; n=708), targeted panel sequencing (n=993) and expression data from RNA-sequencing and gene expression arrays (n=1,497) were available.

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The Myeloma Genome Project has started integrating these genomic datasets and is identifying genetic information expected to inform clinical targets for therapy.

In a separate development, Celgene recently agreed to acquire Acetylon Pharmaceuticals under undisclosed financial terms.

The acquisition will provide Celgene with worldwide rights to Acetylon’s selective HDAC6 inhibitor programmes and intellectual property in oncology, neurodegeneration and auto-immune disease, as well as its lead drug candidates citarinostat (ACY-241) and ricolinostat (ACY-1215).

Acetylon will create its spin-off company, Regenacy Pharmaceuticals, to develop drug candidates that selectively regenerate intracellular transport and upregulate gene expression to affect the course of disease.