Multiple Myeloma Minimal Residual Disease

Hello, my name is Jasmine and I am a doctor who specializes in blood cancers. I’ll be talking about minimal residual disease. I’ll explain its role in the treatment of multiple myeloma and why it’s being measured in clinical trials. This is multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells. The main goal of multiple myeloma treatment is to eradicate all cancerous plasma cells in the body, known as complete remission or complete response.

It means that after treatment, blood and urine tests show no signs of cancer and the bone marrow is producing healthy plasma cells. New drugs are now available that make it possible for people with multiple myeloma to achieve complete remission after their initial treatment. However, even after achieving complete remission, some people may have small amounts of residual myeloma cells still hidden in the bone marrow that are undetectable by standard tests and are likely to cause cancer to come back, which is commonly known as relapse. The presence of these remaining myeloma cells, which can cause multiple myeloma to come back, is what we call minimal residual disease, or MRD for short.

MRD test results help researchers understand how well a treatment has worked and even predict whether there is a risk of relapse. Researchers have found that people with negative MRD results, where no cancer cells can be found, tend to have longer remissions, while people with positive MRD results are more likely to have cancer recurrence. Researchers believe that predicting the risk of myeloma relapse using MRD testing will help them better understand the effectiveness of investigational drugs and may help them make better treatment decisions. The good news is that there are several highly sensitive methods that can detect many more cancer cells than standard full-response tests. One of the methods used in Roche clinical trials is next-generation sequencing. It works by collecting a small amount of your bone marrow and having it tested for genetic abnormalities that indicate you have myeloma. These abnormalities alert us that there is probably some MRD going on, even if we haven’t seen the myeloma cells under a microscope.

For companies like Roche, evaluating the status of MRD in clinical trials can help compare the efficacy of different treatments, such as how well and for how long the treatment works, and help improve the development of more effective treatments for multiple myeloma. . Now, there are some important things that I would like you to keep in mind. First, when you are given an MRD test in our clinical trials, the result is that your tests are treated with the same level of confidentiality and commitment to protecting personal data as all other tests performed during the trial. Second, MRD results, like all test results collected in a clinical trial, are seen only by the company sponsoring the trial. Your personal information, in this case, your MRD test result, is given a code and used by the company running the test. This helps to protect the integrity of the data and to avoid any bias that could bias the results of the trial. To help them assess and understand how effective their investigational medicine is in helping patients achieve negative minimal residual disease status. Looking beyond clinical trials and into the future, measuring MRD as standard practice may allow us, as physicians, to truly tailor and personalize the care we offer our multiple myeloma patients.


Minimal residual disease (MRD) refers to the presence of small numbers of residual cancer cells in the bone marrow that are undetectable by standard tests in patients who have achieved complete remission of multiple myeloma. The MRD is an important measure in the treatment of multiple myeloma, as it helps to assess the effectiveness of treatment and predict the risk of relapse. Negative MRD results indicate longer remissions, while positive MRD results suggest a higher probability of relapse. Next-generation sequencing is one of the highly sensitive methods used to detect MRD. Companies like Roche use MRD assessment in clinical trials to compare treatment efficacy, develop more effective therapies, and protect the integrity of trial data. In the future, the measurement of MRD as a practical standard may allow personalized care for patients with multiple myeloma.

Action Items:

  1. Continue to investigate next-generation sequencing and other highly sensitive methods used to detect minimal residual disease in multiple myeloma.
  2. Explore clinical trials conducted by Roche and other companies to understand the importance of MRD assessment and its impact on treatment efficacy.
  3. Stay current with advances in MRD measurement and control in clinical practice to ensure personalized care for patients with multiple myeloma.
  4. Consider the potential benefits of integrating MRD assessment into routine clinical practice. Practice for the management of multiple myeloma.
  5. Reflect on ethical considerations around patient confidentiality and data protection in clinical trials, particularly with regard to MRD test results.


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