Camilla Zanaglio a , b , Simona Bernardi a , b , * , Lisa Gandolfi a , Mirko Farina a , Federica Re a , b , Nicola Polverelli a , Tatiana Zollner a , Alessandro Turra a , Enrico Morello a , Michele Malagola a , Domenico Russo a
15 October 2020
Real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) is the gold standard to quantify the BCR-ABL1 transcript for molecular response monitoring in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients, and it plays a pivotal role in clinical decision-making process, even if it presents technical limits. Increasing data suggest that digital PCR (dPCR) is more accurate and reliable than RT-qPCR in CML minimal residual disease monitoring and in patients’ selection for treatment discontinuation. But what about the identification of treatment discontinuation failures? We present the case of a CML patient enrolled both in a study aiming to comparatively assess molecular response by RT-qPCR and dPCR and in the progressive arm of the OPTkIMA trial. This is a phase III trial including CML patients randomized to receive a fixed versus a progressive intermittent tyrosine kinase inhibitor regimen. At 24 months, because of two consecutive detections of MR<sup>2.0</sup> by RT-qPCR, the patient resumed daily treatment. Conversely, dPCR revealed a stability of molecular response and even a slight decreasing of transcript over time. An additional specimen was sampled one month after the first MR<sup>2.0</sup> detection because of clinical decision: RT-qPCR resulted MR<sup>3.0</sup> and dPCR confirmed the transcript’s stability. Nowadays, the resumption of therapy is RT-qPCR-driven despite its limits in detection and robustness. In this case, according to dPCR, the patient could have continued intermittent treatment and the stability of response was then confirmed by RT-qPCR. So, dPCR could be able to better identify peculiar clinical response to therapy.