Minimal residual disease (MRD) in patients with Philadelphia chromosome- positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph1 ALL) who received allogeneic (n = 9) or autologous (n = 6) bone marrow transplantation (BMT) was evaluated by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the bcr-abl transcript. Twelve patients received BMT at the time of hematologic and cytogenetic remission. However, MRD was detected in 8 of 10 patients evaluated. Seven patients, including three who had MRD before BMT, continue to have a disease-free survival 5 to 64 months after BMT. Twenty-one specimens obtained from these patients at various times after BMT did not show MRD. In three patients, MRD detected just before BMT seems to be eradicated by BMT protocol. The other eight patients developed cytogenetic or hematologic relapses 2 to 8 months after BMT. Seven of 14 samples from these patients demonstrated MRD, which preceded clinical relapse by 3 to 9 weeks. Thus, this technique for the detection of MRD appears to be useful for the more precise assessment of various antileukemia therapies and for early detection of leukemia recurrence.

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