Biomarkers in drug discovery and development: from target identification through drug marketing

J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Apr;43(4):329-41. doi: 10.1177/0091270003252480.


Biomarkers of disease play an important role in medicine and have begun to assume a greater role in drug discovery and development. The challenge for biomarkers is to allow earlier, more robust drug safety and efficacy measurements. Their role in drug development will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. For biomarkers to assume their rightful role, greater understanding of the mechanism of disease progression and therapeutic intervention is needed. In addition, greater understanding of the requirements for biomarker selection and validation, biomarker assay method validation and application, and clinical endpoint validation and application is needed. Biomarkers need to be taken into account while the therapeutic target is still being identified and the concept is being formulated. Biomarkers need to be incorporated into a continuous cycle that takes what is learned from the discovery and development of one series of biomarkers and translates it into the next series of biomarkers. Optimum biomarker development and application will require a team approach because of the multifaceted nature of biomarker selection, validation, and application, using such techniques as pharmacoepidemiology, pharmacogenetics, pharmacogenomics, and functional proteomics; bioanalytical method development and validation; disease process and therapeutic intervention assessments; and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling and simulation to improve and refine drug development. The potential for biomarkers in medicine and drug development will be limited by the least effective component of the processes. The team approach will minimize the potential for the least effective component to be fatal to the rest of the process. As scientific/regulatory foundations for biomarkers in medicine and drug development begin to be established, successes and applications will need to be effectively communicated with all of the stakeholders, including not only internal and external drug developers and regulators but also the medical community, to ensure that biomarkers are totally integrated into drug discovery and development as well as the practice of medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers* / analysis
  • Drug Delivery Systems / trends*
  • Drug Design*
  • Drug Therapy
  • Endpoint Determination
  • Humans
  • Marketing / trends*
  • Models, Biological
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pharmacology


  • Biomarkers
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations