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biomarkers - personalised medicine


Nowadays, when you visit a doctor with common cold associated with fever you are directly given a prescription containing an antibiotic course and paracetamol. If this fails, you’re asked to give a blood test for any viral infections and then goes the prescription again.

“The problem due to this is we’re running out of antibiotics and we’re not discovering them at the same rate that we used to — we’re not discovering very many at all and so once the bacteria or virus have established resistance to the ones we have – we’re in serious trouble.”

So, is it possible for a simple test than can differentiate between a viral and normal condition? Yes, this is where the biomarkers enter the plot. A biomarker is a characteristic that can be measured as an indicator of normal biological/pathogenic processes or as pharmacological response to a therapeutic intervention. These are used for many purposes including disease diagnosis & prognosis, prediction and assessment of treatment response. Further, patients expect approved drugs that work to be safe and suitable for them. So, biomarkers can even help drug development to focus more on defined subgroups of patients, thereby possibly increasing treatment efficacy and safety.

Biomarkers are already embedded into our language and medical care today. This biomarker boom has already benefited therapeutic areas like neuroscience, cardiovascular disease and oncology. Cardiovascular risk can be assessed through blood pressure and cholesterol checks; Diabetic patients can examine their glucose levels using one test namely, haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) – that provides glucose levels from the recent two weeks. Liver function tests (LFT) assess liver toxicity and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) assesses prostate cancer risk and disease status. Biomarkers have many potential applications in oncology, including screening, risk assessment, differential diagnosis, determination of prognosis, monitoring of progression of disease and in prediction of response to treatment (chemotherapy).

biomarkers infograph

Currently, oncology researchers are investigating a wealth of biomarkers to address risk, drug resistance and treatment effectiveness for many tumour types.

  • Biomarkers like human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) help predict resistance and response in breast cancer.
  • DNA resistance arrays are being used to predict drug resistance and direct patient treatments. This assessment is helping to predict the right therapy for patients with 85 percent accuracy for certain traditional chemotherapy treatments.

All these biomarkers have made progress across a wide range of functional targets. Despite advances, more work is needed to validate these biomarkers as reliable tools, develop consistent international data standards and enable the co-development of better diagnostics and drugs. While there is a widespread recognition of biomarker value, the scientific progress continues to outpace its acceptance. Over the years, biomarkers have sometimes been the centre of excessive “hype,” prompting excessive expectations. Also, biomarkers as surrogate endpoints have had some public failures when they were felt to be falsely reassuring or too alarming, creating general scepticism among some scientists.

Dozens of HER2, CRP, CKM/B and troponin tests (among lots of other highly-replicated biomarkers) attest to the lack of innovation among the largest In-Vitro Diagnostics companies. As of now, only small companies like Helomics Corporation, Dako (Aligent Technologies), MBL international corporation and Exact Sciences are investing in R&D for biomarkers identification while large players are solely focused on acquisitions and mergers. For biomarkers to be validated and accepted by the scientific community, companies must work together to support the research needed.

The recent collaborations among major players has accelerated scientific advances, distributed cost of validation and increased confidence in using biomarkers. The global upward trends in respect to utilization of biomarkers are also promising as biomarkers continue to serve as central hub in cancer detection, treatment, and prevention. Moreover, the future appears to be bright for the development of biomarkers as personalized solutions for cancer prevention and treatment.

For more insights into the biomarkers market checkout Market Data Forecast’s comprehensive research reports with in-depth segmentation, wide ranging geographical analyses complete with list of the drivers and restraints, company profiles, competitive landscape, strategic analysis and investment opportunities. Contact now for your free research sample and subscribe to our newsletters to make your decisions well-versed.

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