Myeloma Study Makes the Case for a New Standard for Predicting Long-Term Outcome

As new treatments for multiple myeloma have extended patient survival—from an average of three years to more than 10 in some cases—physicians and researchers face a new challenge: how to predict a drug’s long-term effectiveness? How to tell, early on, whether one drug is likely to extend patients’ lives more than another?

At Dana-Farber’s Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center, researchers have identified one such sign. In a study published in the journal Blood, investigators found that, after treatment, patients with no myeloma cells within 1 million bone marrow cells were more likely to have a lengthy remission than those with higher myeloma cell counts. They propose that the less-than-one-in-a-million level—formally known as an absence of “minimal residual disease” (MRD)—be adopted as the new standard for managing myeloma and evaluating myeloma drugs.

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