Molecular diagnostics are becoming increasingly important in clinical research to stratify or identify molecularly profiled patient cohorts for targeted therapies, to modify the dose of a therapeutic, and to assess early response to therapy or monitor patients. Molecular diagnostics can also be used to identify the pharmacogenetic risk of adverse drug reactions. The articles in this CCR Focus section on molecular diagnosis describe the development and use of markers to guide medical decisions regarding cancer patients. They define sources of preanalytic variability that need to be minimized, as well as the regulatory and financial challenges involved in developing diagnostics and integrating them into clinical practice. They also outline a National Cancer Institute program to assist diagnostic development. Molecular diagnostic clinical tests require rigor in their development and clinical validation, with sensitivity, specificity, and validity comparable to those required for the development of therapeutics. These diagnostics must be offered at a realistic cost that reflects both their clinical value and the costs associated with their development. When genome-sequencing technologies move into the clinic, they must be integrated with and traceable to current technology because they may identify more efficient and accurate approaches to drug development. In addition, regulators may define progressive drug approval for companion diagnostics that requires further evidence regarding efficacy and safety before full approval can be achieved. One way to accomplish this is to emphasize phase IV postmarketing, hypothesis-driven clinical trials with biological characterization that would permit an accurate definition of the association of low-prevalence gene alterations with toxicity or response in large cohorts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research