Early patient stratification and predictive biomarkers in drug discovery and development: a case study of ulcerative colitis anti-TNF therapy

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;736:645-53. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-7210-1_38.


The current drug discovery paradigm is long, costly, and prone to failure. For projects in early development, lack of efficacy in Phase II is a major contributor to the overall failure rate. Efficacy failures often occur from one of two major reasons: either the investigational agent did not achieve the required pharmacology or the mechanism targeted by the investigational agent did not significantly contribute to the disease in the tested patient population. The latter scenario can arise due to insufficient study power stemming from patient heterogeneity. If the subset of disease patients driven by the mechanism that is likely to respond to the drug can be identified and selected before enrollment begins, efficacy and response rates should improve. This will not only augment drug approval percentages, but will also minimize the number of patients at risk of side effects in the face of a suboptimal response to treatment. Here we describe a systems biology approach using molecular profiling data from patients at baseline for the development of predictive biomarker content to identify potential responders to a molecular targeted therapy before the drug is tested in humans. A case study is presented where a classifier to predict response to a TNF targeted therapy for ulcerative colitis is developed a priori and verified against a test set of patients where clinical outcomes are known. This approach will promote the tandem development of drugs with predictive response, patient selection biomarkers.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism
  • Drug Approval / methods*
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infliximab
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Systems Biology / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Biomarkers
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Infliximab