15 Years of MLL Munich Leukemia Laboratory: an anniversary without celebrations

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We opened the MLL on August 1, 2005. Back then we had 29 employees; now we have over 200, 180 of whom are active.

The number of samples at the MLL and the possibilities for diagnostic methods have developed in parallel with hematology in the last 15 years. Diagnostics with all its possibilities and needs is becoming more and more exciting for us. It is growing in importance for patients and attending physicians. This is true regarding the description of the disease and its risk profile during diagnosis, as well as to the analyses of the course of the disease, whose numbers have increased sharply, which contribute to therapy management. The total number of samples sent to the MLL in the last 15 years is now over 750,000.

We would have liked to celebrate this milestone with our donors and employees as befits such an occasion. However, due to the current situation, all plans have been put on hold with our site also on lock down.

Our primary goal is still to provide all patients with the most current comprehensive diagnostics and in the shortest time possible. We also see it as our duty to document increasingly complex findings in as comprehensible a manner as possible. We are always grateful for any feedback and advice on how to improve our service!

With so much important data, we continue to believe our second important duty is to evaluate this data scientifically and to make the resulting knowledge available through lectures and publications. For us, the need also instinctively arises to not remain still and regard the present as given.

Thus, a special thanks goes to our donors: We need progression parameters, including for patient therapy, at many sites, to turn the data into lectures and publications. Many of you support us intensely, always taking into account the necessary data protection. We thank you most sincerely for this support, which will benefit future research approaches, guidelines and individual patient care through publications.

We are taking care of automation and digitization to improve our workflow not only due to the increasing number of cases but also to avoid errors. Since 2009, the entire system has been implemented in an accredited environment (ISO 15189) currently with over 600 SOPs.

Especially in the present time, bioinformatics, its knowledge and contributions also play a very important role at the MLL; they are essential to our services and further development of the laboratory. In view of this, we have also established the implementation of artificial intelligence for research projects at many sites, gradually introducing it into the routine and accrediting it. We have noticed an additional gain regarding the validity of the findings and have achieved, at the same time, a reduction in turn-around times. All these algorithms also help us to minimize errors. Before using the findings from these algorithms, including AI, the result is checked and finally validated in every case by our hematologists, scientists and responsible MTAs.

We enjoy the common spirit of our laboratory as hematologists and molecular biologists who lead a large team of extremely committed employees from a variety of professions, arriving at findings cooperatively. In this way, we can always set a goal for new things and ultimately re-experience and enliven the passage of the first year every time.

As managing directors, we are also proud that, for the second time in a row, we have been voted Germany’s TOP 100 more innovative and medium-sized companies and that we were able to put ourselves in the competition in this aspect as well.

We would like to continue committing ourselves to advancing leukemia diagnostics of mostly phenotype-based to more genotype-based approaches, and in accordance with the WHO classification and its further development. Another primary goal is to further digitize and automate the processes taking place and to make them even faster and safer especially via algorithms, including artificial intelligence. To have the knowledge in the field of hematology present in each individual case and make it available in the interest of individual patients. We believe that this can only be meaningfully illustrated in the future by means of such automation and the use of algorithms.

We look forward to continuing cooperation with you as our donors and employees as we fulfill our common duty here everyday in expert fashion.  See behind – go beyond!

Best regards,

C. Haferlach, T. Haferlach, W. Kern