Is it possible multiple myeloma patients will need fewer biopsies in the future? Dr. Sikander Ailawadhi from the Mayo Clinic explains bone marrow biopsies, myeloma detection, and potential tests in development.
Okay, so for myeloma patients, even though our insurance companies, sometimes we have to argue with them a little bit as if we’re beating down doors to get a bone marrow biopsy, nobody loves those, I’m not sure why insurance companies think we would actually want that. But what do you see in the future, I know there’s talk about mass spectrometry. Every myeloma patient would love to hear the words, you’ll never have to have another bone marrow biopsy.
Do you see a future in that and some of these newer tests that are coming out?
Dr. Sikander Ailawadhi:
Sure, I think that’s absolutely important to know because…yes, that’s the bane of our existence, unfortunately, disease primarily lives inside the bone marrow, so to get the true information…that’s where you go. So there are some tests that are being developed or researched, patients may have heard about what’s being termed, the liquid biopsy or taking a blood sample to identify plasma cells or disease, there’s a lot of research going on around it. But, unfortunately, it has not panned out yet, because by nature, plasma cells do not circulate in the blood, or if they circulate, it’s a very, very small amount, so it’s hard to pick it up from the blood and do the tests on it. But there’s a lot of research going on for it to get the plasma cells, get the FISH testing, and all the genetic testing from the plan.
So stay tuned, hopefully we’ll get in that direction. What you also mentioned, a test that’s been developed and done at Mayo Clinic is what’s called maspect or looking at these proteins, these M-spikes, these light chains, the IgGs, etcetera. Looking at them at a molecular level and separating them based on their weight, because IgG kappa, for example, from one patient may be different from the IgG kappa that came from a different patient, but they can be separated out based on the weight, based on the molecular weight… on the size, and that can sometimes be used that how the test has been developed to use that property to identify and almost catalog and tabulate and follow that patient’s protein, so that we can hopefully collect or detect a recurrence sooner, note a deeper response to the treatment.
And in the future, hopefully use that depth of response and that earlier recurrence as…or earlier detection of the protein as a survivable matter, recurrence. I still think that it’s two different things, one is to look at the protein and note it at a deeper level to know whether the patients responded or relapsing, but so far, if you want to do those rotation testing, the FISH testing, and look at some of the characteristics of the myeloma, unfortunately, we do have to go to the bone marrow, but down the road, I’m hoping that those liquid biopsies and the blood tests will hopefully make it happen.
Well, that would be music to my ears, even fewer biopsies would be great, so that would be awesome.