Cancer biomarkers

From discovery to cancer management.

The translation of basic research to clinical practice is a priority for the Fournier-Majoie Foundation. The current focus on translation stems from concern that the level of investment in research is not being reflected in improved clinical outcomes, and the benefits from the 'genetic revolution' have been slow to arrive.

What is a biomarker ?


A biomarker is a characteristic that is objectively measured and evaluated as an indicator of normal biologic processes, pathogenic processes, or pharmacologic responses to a therapeutic intervention (official NIH definition).
E.g. molecular biomarkers, imaging biomarkers, ...

Types of biomarkers

In cancer research and medicine, biomarkers are used in several ways:

  1. To help diagnose conditions, as in the case of identifying early stage cancers (Diagnostic)
  2. To forecast how aggressive a condition is, as in the case of determining a patient's ability to fare in the absence of treatment (Prognostic)
  3. To predict how well a patient will respond to treatment (Predictive)
  4. To define the optimal dose of drugs for a specific patient (Pharmacodynamics)
  5. To assess disease recurrence through monitoring (Recurrence)

What are the stages of (molecular) biomarker development ?


Biomarkers stages

We support researchers as of the moment they have identified (a) biomarker(s) - ie finalised the Discovery fase - and have secured Intellectual Property protection.

1. Discovery

  • Detection and identification of differentially expressed molecules between 2 or more populations.
  • Requires retrospective studies in tens of samples
  • Outcome discovery phase = a hit

2. Qualification

  • Confirmation of differentially expressed molecules in same sample set using a different technology
  • Requires retrospective studies in tens of samples
  • Outcome qualification step = lead-biomarker

3. Verification:

  • Verification and quantitation of differentially expressed molecules in a different, larger sample set
  • Requires retrospective studies in hundreds of samples
  • Outcome verification step = candidate-biomarker

4. Validation:

  • Statistical proof and quantitation of biomarker candidates in a number of sample sets: e.g. target disease, healthy, other similar diseases
  • Requires preferentially prospective studies in thousands of samples
  • Outcome = clinically validated biomarker

Read more on biomarker and clinical practice