Progress in molecular diagnostics

April 1, 2010
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Molecular diagnostics is one of the fastest growing segments of the in vitro diagnostics market and, within this, personalised medicine is at the forefront. Personalised medicine is particularly interesting to the diagnostics industry as it represents a brand new sector for our products.

Molecular diagnostics is one of the fastest growing segments of the in vitro diagnostics market and, within this, personalised medicine is at the forefront. Personalised medicine is particularly interesting to the diagnostics industry as it represents a brand new sector for our products.

In recent years, we have witnessed a significant demand both from pharmaceutical companies for partnerships and also from laboratories for products, both of which have been driven by the commercial and clinical benefits of adopting a personalised medicine approach.

Breakthroughs

Although real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology was a major advance in the field of molecular diagnosis, it has been used to perform diagnostic tests for a number of years now. Significant advances have been made most recently in linking the results of these molecular tests with patient treatment outcomes.

Within personalised medicine, cancer is certainly leading the field with all new cancer drugs in development having an associated biomarker programme. There isn’t any other single field of medicine emerging that can compete with the developments that have been made in the field of oncology; rather developments have been made with many different types of drugs. One theme that does seem to be gathering momentum is the use of biomarkers to predict rare safety-related events, such as the HLAB5701 marker, which indicates which patients are at risk of a potentially fatal reaction to the HIV and AIDS treatment, abacavir.

As our knowledge of disease processes continues to advance, drugs will increasingly target the underlying molecular mechanisms responsible. This means that drugs will become more effective but also more specific, leading to a continued demand for diagnostic tools to ensure they are appropriately targeted.

Within the narrower field of cancer, in the future, I predict that it will be possible to use combinations of drugs and diagnostics to monitor how a tumour is developing and adjust therapy in response to this.

Based on a contribution by Dr Stephen Little, Vice President, Personalized Healthcare at DxS, a QIAGEN company.