Genetic testing expert Invitae (NYSE: NVTA) has received the backing of some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the industry. Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Novartis (NYSE: NVS), and Roche (OTC: RHHBY) have enlisted Invitae to develop a molecular residual disease detection (MRD) test for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Traditionally, cures of AML and other blood cancers have been detected by looking for the presence of cancer cells in a sample of blood or bone marrow. But if there are a small number of cells that are still cancerous, they may not be seen using standard detection tests.
MRD tests use molecular tests, such as next-generation sequencing, which are substantially more sensitive, allowing them to detect cells that might result in disease relapse or recurrence. After a positive MRD test, a doctor may recommend additional treatments that wouldn’t have occurred if the cells weren’t detected with traditional tests.