DFN Foundation donates £1m to Myeloma UK

May 30, 2017

At the DFN Charitable Foundation [the Foundation], we are focused on investing funds into cutting-edge myeloma research, predominately focused on genomics and genetics as well as the accelerated development of new effective treatments with the potential to cure myeloma. 

Today we are delighted to announce a £1 million donation to Myeloma UK. The funds will allow the development of advanced genomic and genetic research tools to better characterise, monitor and treat myeloma over time. This news closely follows the appointment of former Myeloma UK CEO Eric Low as Trustee of the Foundation, with the responsibility of managing and maximising the funds.

Myeloma is an incurable, complex and physically debilitating cancer of plasma cells which are found in the bone marrow. Many people live only months after diagnosis, and only 40 percent are alive after five years. Between 5,000 to 6,000 people are diagnosed annually in the UK. We’re committed to working with Myeloma UK and in the future, other research organisations around the world, to support the discovery and new treatments needed to help extend the length and quality of life for these patients. 

Myeloma UK is the only organisation in the UK dealing exclusively with myeloma whose goal is to find a cure. They work to ensure patients get access to the right treatment at the right time, and provide a range of support and information services to patients and their family and friends aimed at helping them to deal with a myeloma diagnosis. Myeloma UK receives no government funding and relies almost entirely on voluntary donations and fundraising activities.

The £1 million donation will be provided to Myeloma UK to fund research at their Centre for Myeloma Research at The Institute of Cancer Research in London to conduct Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) on up to 2,000 patient samples collected from the pivotal Myeloma XI clinical trial. The donation will also establish the ‘’Jacquelin Forbes-Nixon Research Fellowship’’.

A word from our founder:

David Forbes-Nixon said: “My mother died of myeloma, so it is a cause very close to my heart. She was diagnosed late, having been misdiagnosed for six months and then didn’t respond well to treatment. She passed away within two years of diagnosis, despite being very healthy beforehand, and it broke my heart. Therefore, I am now very driven to support research into finding a cure.

"The Foundation has made a £1 million donation to Myeloma UK that will enable the world class research team at The ICR to apply cutting-edge genomic and genetic research tools to better characterise, monitor and treat myeloma over time, with the goal of optimising treatments and in doing so, taking a crucial step towards its curability.”

This donation follows the appointment of former Myeloma UK CEO Eric Low as Trustee of DFN. Eric Low commented: “I’m thrilled to be joining the DFN Foundation as a Trustee. I have a deep admiration for what David has achieved so far and I am excited to have the opportunity to use my experience in myeloma to help maximise the DFN Foundation’s investment in myeloma research, which we hope will deliver substantial benefits for patients.”

The Institute of Cancer Research mission is to make the discoveries that defeat cancer. They have a vision of a world where people can live their lives free of cancer as a life-threatening disease.They undertake world-class research designed to improve outcomes for people with cancer. They are driven by a desire to understand the genetics and biology of cancer and to apply knowledge to maximise clinical impact. 

Over the past five years, The ICR have generated one of the largest and most complex myeloma bone marrow collections in the world. They now have over 2,000 bone marrow samples from the Myeloma XI clinical trial and hundreds of samples from the Myeloma UK supported studies stored. Analysing patient bone marrow samples using the latest technology will help to optimise current and future treatments by better understanding which patients benefit from which treatments and so may help towards the curability of myeloma. 

Dr Kaiser, who leads the myeloma research team at the ICR, said: “We're working with sensitive, newer techniques to better understand characteristics of myeloma that escape treatment effects and persist, even during clinical remission, that are going to eventually cause patients to develop treatment resistance and relapse, so we can find better ways to kill myeloma cells that survive initial treatment. We hope for a better quality of life and survival for patients until the time when doctors tell their patients myeloma can be controlled in the long-term or even cured.”

Simon Ridley, Director of Research of Myeloma UK commented on the donation: "We have been proud funders of the Centre for Myeloma Research at the ICR for the past decade. This very generous donation from the DFN Foundation will go a long way to helping us not only achieve our goal of doing Whole Genome Sequencing on up to 2,000 samples but also, through the funding of a research Fellow, get a head start on the analysis of the data that comes back.”

In 2017, David Forbes-Nixon and the Board of the Foundation have set  three audacious goals for the Foundation to achieve during the next ten years. The first is to fund research to find a cure for myeloma. Today’s announcement marks the beginning of an exciting journey.