Detection of minimal residual disease in all: biology, methods, and applications

  • W. Mark Roberts
  • Zeev Estrov
  • Geoffrey R. Kitchingman
  • Theodore F. Zipf
Part of the Cancer Treatment and Research book series (CTAR, volume 84)


Progress in the treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has been dramatic during the last three decades [1]. Unfortunately, although the disease is initially responsive to combination chemotherapy in the vast majority of cases — i.e., complete remissions are attained — contemporary therapies result in a cure in only about 60%–70% of children [2]. The complete remission rate for adults (above the age of 18) is slightly lower, but the outcome is worse due to a higher relapse rate, often occurring early during treatment. One criterion for complete remission is that the bone marrow contain fewer than 5% blasts. However, a patient in remission may harbor up to 1010 malignant cells in the bone marrow that must be eradicated or controlled by therapy to achieve the desired outcome of cure [3,4]. The inability to assess this potentially large amount of leukemia in a patient who is in ‘remission’ has necessitated empiric strategies for deciding the duration and intensity of therapy necessary to control the disease. Thus, strategies to identify the tumor burden during remission, often termed minimal residual disease or MRD, have been applied in an effort to improve our understanding of the nature of the disease and its response to therapy during this period.


Polymerase Chain Reaction Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Residual Disease Minimal Residual Disease Bone Marrow Sample 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Mark Roberts
  • Zeev Estrov
  • Geoffrey R. Kitchingman
  • Theodore F. Zipf

There are no affiliations available

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