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Minimal Residual Disease and the Promise of Blood Biopsy in Multiple Myeloma



Minimal Residual Disease and the Promise of Blood Biopsy in Multiple Myeloma 
                                                                                                 
New multiple myeloma treatments continue to emerge, giving health care providers options that can achieve responses in up to 100% of patients—with many patients reaching a complete response. However, achieving a complete response does not always mean that all myeloma cells have been eliminated from the body; some myeloma cells can remain. This is called minimal residual disease (MRD), and it can cause a relapse. Standard blood and bone marrow tests are not able to detect these remaining cells; fortunately, advances in testing strategies are overcoming this problem. New tests that can detect MRD are becoming available. Some tests are so sensitive that they can detect a single myeloma cell among 100,000—and, for some tests, even one million—healthy cells. Studies have shown that patients who achieve MRD negativity experience better results (for example, a longer time before relapse). With today’s therapies, more and more patients are achieving MRD negativity. Thus, interest in the strategies for measuring MRD is growing. MRD monitoring is only just beginning to be adopted in cancer centers.


At present, monitoring disease levels and detecting MRD require a bone marrow biopsy—a procedure that tends to be unpopular with patients. Luckily, research into ways of testing blood—that is, using blood biopsies—to detect myeloma burden is progressing. There are currently two types of blood biopsy: those that detect myeloma cells (circulating tumor cells, or CTCs) and those that detect circulating free DNA (scraps of DNA released from myeloma cells). Blood biopsies hold the promise of overcoming some limitations of current MRD testing, such as using a less-invasive approach, and allowing for more frequent testing—a win-win for both patients and their providers.

This webinar will review the concepts of MRD, how it’s tested, what the results mean for patients, and the progress and potential of blood biopsy. 


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C. Ola Landgren, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York
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Jens G. Lohr, MD, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, Massachusetts





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