ASH 2016 | Novel technologies to detect minimal residual disease (MRD)

Todd E. Druley

Todd E. Druley, MD, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, discusses novel technologies to detect minimal residual disease (MRD) at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Congress 2016 in San Diego, CA. He explains that minimal residual disease (MRD) is the assessment for residual leukemia after a patient has gone through treatment, which has historically been assessed with flow cytometry as well as specific PCR techniques. However, Dr Druley highlights that in the era of personalized therapy, molecular diagnostics through next-generation sequencing (NGS) has the potential to be used to detect MRD. Research in his lab has been focused on establishing protocols to assess a range of mutations in both DNA and RNA, to create a technology suite of tools for clinicians to identify what is best for each patient. Dr Druley argues that this so-called molecular MRD will be the main method for MRD detection in future. The techniques used historically do not give specific information on which treatments should be applied to patients, while new technologies offer very targeted molecular diagnostics, so a range of targeted therapies can be chosen from. According to Dr Druley, the biggest barriers to the widespread implementation of these techniques are the cost and turnaround time, as well as computing needs required. However, he is optimistic that these barriers will be addressed in the next few years to allow molecular MRD to be used more widely.

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