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Rausch, Christian; Rothenberg-Thurley, Maja; Bürger, Simon A.; Tschuri, Sebastian; Dufour, Annika; Neusser, Michaela; Schneider, Stephanie; Spiekermann, Karsten; Metzeler, Klaus H. and Ziemann, Frank (2021): Double Drop-Off Droplet Digital PCR A Novel, Versatile Tool for Mutation Screening and Residual Disease Monitoring in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Using Cellular or Cell-Free DNA. In: Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, Vol. 23, No. 8: pp. 975-985

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In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), somatic gene mutations are important prognostic markers and increasingly constitute therapeutic targets. Therefore, robust, sensitive, and fast diagnostic assays are needed. Current techniques for mutation screening and quantification, including next-generation sequencing and quantitative PCR, each have weaknesses that leave a need for novel diagnostic tools. We established double drop-off digital droplet PCR (DDO-ddPCR) assays for gene mutations in NPM1, IDH2, and NRAS, which can detect and quantify diverse alterations at two nearby hotspot regions present in these genes. These assays can be used for mutation screening as well as quantification and sequential monitoring. The assays were validated against next-generation sequencing and existing ddPCR assays and achieved high concordance with an overall sensitivity comparable to conventional digital PCR. In addition, the feasibility of detecting and monitoring genetic alterations in peripheral blood cell-free DNA (cfDNA) of patients with AML by DDO-ddPCR was studied. cfDNA analysis was found to have similar sensitivity compared to quantitative PCR-based analysis of peripheral blood. Finally, the cfDNAbased digital PCR in several clinical scenarios was found to be useful in long-term monitoring of targetspecific therapy, early response assessment during induction chemotherapy, and identification of mutations in patients with extramedullary disease. Thus, DDO-ddPCR-based cfDNA analysis may complement existing genetic tools for diagnosis and disease monitoring in AML. (J Mol Diagn 2021, 23: 975-985;https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmoldx.2021.05.001)

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