A friend a fellow MM patient DH alerted me to an interesting article just published in an alternative means of testing for Minimal Residual Disease called Deep Gene Sequencing. Evidently it is more sensitive than MFC tests for MRD. The MFC test reports that I have “<.01%” (which means it cannot detect MRD with greater accuracy than 1 in 10,000 cells). Evidently Deep Gene Sequencing is accurate to 1 in 1,000,000. Not sure how I sign up for this!
It’s not perfect, though, for the same reasons other MRD tests that rely on bone marrow are not. MM cells are not evenly distributed throughout the bone marrow — one could have negative bone marrow in one spot and find residual disease elsewhere. A test needs to rely on circulating cells (i.e., in the blood). This is still being worked on.
Since the test is imperfect, there were relapses among patients who were MRD negative — though not among all of them. And here is where it gets interesting:
No matter whether patients were MRD negative or not, after approximately 80 months, NOBODY EXPERIENCED RECURRENCE. That’s right, another plateau.
The full article, from the Myeloma Beacon, is here.
So in the last week, we’ve seen two studies — one in Italy and this one in Spain — demonstrate that after 8-10 years, the disease rarely if ever comes back.