Central nervous system drug development: an integrative biomarker approach toward individualized medicine

NeuroRx. 2005 Oct;2(4):683-95. doi: 10.1602/neurorx.2.4.683.


Drug development for CNS disorders faces the same formidable hurdles as other therapeutic areas: escalating development costs; novel drug targets with unproven therapeutic potential; and health care systems and regulatory agencies demanding more compelling demonstrations of the value of new drug products. Extensive clinical testing remains the core of registration of new compounds; however, traditional clinical trial methods are falling short in overcoming these development hurdles. The most common CNS disorders targeted for drug treatment are chronic, slowly vitiating processes manifested by highly subjective and context dependent signs and symptoms. With the exception of a few rare familial degenerative disorders, they have ill-defined or undefined pathophysiology. Samples selected for treatment trials using clinical criteria are inevitably heterogeneous, and dependence on traditional endpoints results in early proof-of-concept trials being long and large, with very poor signal to noise. It is no wonder that pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are looking to biomarkers as an integral part of decision-making process supported by new technologies such as genetics, genomics, proteomics, and imaging as a mean of rationalizing CNS drug development. The present review represent an effort to illustrate the integration of such technologies in drug development supporting the path of individualized medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers*
  • Central Nervous System Agents / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Drug Design*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics / methods
  • Pharmacogenetics / trends
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / methods*


  • Biomarkers
  • Central Nervous System Agents