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Blood. 2000 Apr 15;95(8):2651-8.

Immunoglobulin heavy-chain consensus probes for real-time PCR quantification of residual disease in acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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  • 1Department of Adult Oncology, Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USa.


Tumor-related immunoglobulin heavy-chain (IgH) rearrangements are markers for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection of minimal residual disease (MRD) in B-cell malignancies. Nested PCR with patient IgH allele-specific oligonucleotide primers can detect 1 tumor cell in 10(4) to 10(6) normal cells. In childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), persistence of PCR-detectable disease is associated with increased risk of relapse. The clinical significance of qualitative PCR data can be limited, however, because patients can harbor detectable MRD for prolonged periods without relapse. Recent studies indicate that a quantitative rise in tumor burden identifies patients who are at high risk for relapse. Therefore, an efficient and reliable PCR method for MRD quantification is needed for ALL patients. We have developed a real-time PCR method to quantify MRD with IgH V(H) gene family consensus fluorogenically labeled probes. With this method, a small number of probes can be used to quantify MRD in a large number of different patients. The assay was found to be both accurate and reproducible over a wide range and capable of detecting approximately 1 tumor cell in 5 x 10(4) normal cells. We demonstrate that this methodology can discriminate between patients with persistence of MRD who relapse and those who do not. This technique is generally applicable to B-cell malignancies and is currently being used to quantify MRD in a number of prospective clinical studies at our institution. (Blood. 2000;95:2651-2658)

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