The medical and scientific communities are committed to understanding and developing solutions for a better quality of life. From fundamental research to translation research, that’s all that matters. Pharmaceutical companies share the same interest, but with an additional difference: saving money. Biomarkers play an important role in prevention, precision medicine, and the identification of key molecules that accelerate drug discovery.
Biomarkers are biological signals that ‘mark’ or predict the occurrence of a specific biological condition (normal or pathological process or response to treatment). These biomarkers can be biological molecules, such as proteins, micro-RNAs, genetic mutations, etc.
Saving lives. To save
The importance of prevention is easy to understand. Prevention has led to a better quality of life, better survival and the ultimate goal is to prevent the disease before symptoms appear. This could be possible with the use of biomarkers. Biomarkers can be used clinically to diagnose disease, disease stages and select the best treatment.
Prevention is not only a good ally for a better quality of life, it also has an economic impact. Harvard Medical School data show that 69 million workers in the United States report sick leave each year. To give an example of cardiovascular disease, prevention would save $41 billion annually in health insurance. We can imagine the same amount for other chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
To treat or not to treat; that is the question!
Predictive diagnostic tests help determine the most effective treatment for each patient at the time of diagnosis. For example, Dutch diagnostic tests based on genetic signatures determine the risk of lymph node metastasis in breast cancer (Agendia) and melanoma (SkylineDx). By defining the risk, the doctor will help in choosing the best treatment for each patient, or even if he needs to be treated. It is estimated that about 50% of patients with breast cancer undergo unnecessary chemotherapy because they are classified as high risk according to the clinical diagnosis. The use of biomarkers can improve the quality of life of these patients and reduce the cost of money with unnecessary treatments.
Modern gene sequencing and BIG DATA technologies will be used to compare treatment responses in patients with the same genetic signature. This allows doctors to choose the best medical treatment in a personalized way, which will increase the success of the therapy. The benefits of these approaches are not just for patients who receive better care, but also for the health system, as the money invested will be used for more effective treatments to fight the disease.
The faster the better
Biomarkers exist to accelerate drug discovery and increase the success rate of drug development programs. Like? Biomarkers can be used to monitor the safety of therapy, to a drug from a safety or efficacy perspective. Save time and costs on clinical trials.
The era of molecular medicine has arrived! Understanding biomarkers is essential. With health, we must be prepared for the new times.