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Utility of flow cytometry studies in the management of patients with multiple myeloma

Paiva, Bruno; Merino, Juana; San Miguel, Jesús F.

doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000331
HEMATOLOGIC MALIGNANCIES: Edited by Miguel A. Sanz

Purpose of review Although the input of multiparameter flow cytometry (MFC) into the clinical management of multiple myeloma patients has faced some reluctance, continuously growing evidence supports the utility of MFC in this disease.

Recent findings MFC immunophenotyping of bone marrow and peripheral blood plasma cells affords cost-effective assessment of clonality, and provides prognostic information on the risk of progression in smoldering multiple myeloma, and the identification of active multiple myeloma patients with dismal outcome (e.g., high numbers of circulating tumor cells) or long-term survival despite suboptimal responses through the characterization of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance-like phenotypes. Extensive data indicate that minimal residual disease (MRD) monitoring can be used as biomarker to evaluate treatment efficacy and act as surrogate for survival. The time has come to address within clinical trials the exact role of baseline risk factors and MRD monitoring for tailored therapy in multiple myeloma, which implies systematic usage of highly sensitive cost-effective, readily available, and standardized MRD techniques such as MFC.

Summary Next-generation MFC should be considered mandatory in the routine evaluation of multiple myeloma patients both at diagnosis and after therapy, and represents an attractive technique to integrate with high-throughput DNA and RNA-seq methods to help in understanding the mechanisms behind dissemination and chemoresistance of multiple myeloma.

Clinica Universidad de Navarra, Centro de Investigación Médica Aplicada (CIMA), IDISNA, Pamplona, Spain

Correspondence to Bruno Paiva, PhD, Clinica Universidad de Navarra, Centro de Investigacion Médica Aplicada (CIMA), Av. Pio XII 36, 31008 Pamplona, Spain. E-mail: bpaiva@unav.esb

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