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Exploring the Utility of Liquid Biopsy for Disease Evaluation of Multiple Myeloma

By: Emily Rhode
Posted: Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The current reliance on single-site bone marrow sampling for the diagnosis and evaluation of multiple myeloma is not only invasive and painful but also a challenging technique to repeat. Furthermore, it is not a reliable representation of disease infiltration and mutational profile. According to Zhen Cai, PhD, of the First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, China, and colleagues, liquid biopsy may help detect disease burden and molecular alterations in patients with multiple myeloma, potentially improving prognostic values. Liquid biopsy is a less invasive technique that can identify and analyze circulating multiple myeloma cells and cell-free nucleic acids. These results were published in Biomarker Research.

“In the future, the introduction of liquid biopsy into the disease evaluation of [multiple myeloma] would provide a tool for the comprehensive and real-time assessment complementary to conventional methods, promoting the development of new risk stratification systems and individual therapy options,” the authors concluded.

Analyses of 23 different liquid biopsy detection techniques for efficiency and sensitivity were presented by the study authors. They ranged from targeted approaches such as next-generation flow cytometry–based quantification to nontargeted approaches including whole-genome sequencing, whole-exome sequencing, and ultra–low-pass whole-genome sequencing. Several hypotheses were explored to explain the mechanisms behind multiple myeloma cell translocation and peripheral blood disease dissemination. Additionally, liquid biopsy’s utility in disease burden assessment, risk stratification, disease prognosis, risk stratification of precursor conditions, measurable residual disease evaluation, and risk stratification of precursor conditions as well as disease monitoring were explored.

Capture of real-time genetic events, ongoing disease risk evaluation, and identification of oncogenes for precision treatments could be achieved using liquid biopsy, according to the study authors. For example, serial comparison of the mutations of circulating multiple myeloma cells may be used to determine genomic alterations during disease progression. This information may help detect the emergence of a drug-resistant multiple myeloma clone.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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