Next-Generation Sequencing for Clinical Management of Multiple Myeloma: Ready for Prime Time?

Niccolo Bolli, Elisa Genuardi, Bachisio Ziccheddu, Marina Martello, Stefania Oliva, Carolina Terragna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Personalized treatment is an attractive strategy that promises increased efficacy with reduced side effects in cancer. The feasibility of such an approach has been greatly boosted by next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques, which can return detailed information on the genome and on the transcriptome of each patient's tumor, thus highlighting biomarkers of response or druggable targets that may differ from case to case. However, while the number of cancers sequenced is growing exponentially, much fewer cases are amenable to a molecularly-guided treatment outside of clinical trials to date. In multiple myeloma, genomic analysis shows a variety of gene mutations, aneuploidies, segmental copy-number changes, translocations that are extremely heterogeneous, and more numerous than other hematological malignancies. Currently, in routine clinical practice we employ reduced FISH panels that only capture three high-risk features as part of the R-ISS. On the contrary, recent advances have suggested that extending genomic analysis to the full spectrum of recurrent mutations and structural abnormalities in multiple myeloma may have biological and clinical implications. Furthermore, increased efficacy of novel treatments can now produce deeper responses, and standard methods do not have enough sensitivity to stratify patients in complete biochemical remission. Consequently, NGS techniques have been developed to monitor the size of the clone to a sensitivity of up to a cell in a million after treatment. However, even these techniques are not within reach of standard laboratories. In this review we will recapitulate recent advances in multiple myeloma genomics, with special focus on the ones that may have immediate translational impact. We will analyze the benefits and pitfalls of NGS-based diagnostics, highlighting crucial aspects that will need to be taken into account before this can be implemented in most laboratories. We will make the point that a new era in myeloma diagnostics and minimal residual disease monitoring is close and conventional genetic testing will not be able to return the required information. This will mandate that even in routine practice NGS should soon be adopted owing to a higher informative potential with increasing clinical benefits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189
Number of pages1
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • prognosis
  • multiple myeloma
  • next generation sequencing
  • genomics
  • personalized medicine


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