Bridging the Gap: Moving Predictive and Prognostic Assays From Research to Clinical Use

Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Mar 15;18(6):1531-9. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-2203.


The development of clinically useful molecular diagnostics requires validation of clinical assay performance and achievement of clinical qualification in clinical trials. As discussed elsewhere in this Focus section on molecular diagnostics, validation of assay performance must be rigorous, especially when the assay will be used to guide treatment decisions. Here we review some of the problems associated with assay development, especially for academic investigators. These include lack of expertise and resources for analytical validation, lack of experience in designing projects for a specific clinical use, lack of specimens from appropriate patient groups, and lack of access to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified laboratories. In addition, financial support for assay validation has lagged behind financial support for marker discovery or drug development, even though the molecular diagnostic may be considered necessary for the successful use of the companion therapeutic. The National Cancer Institute supports a large number of clinical trials and a significant effort in drug development. In order to address some of these barriers for predictive and prognostic assays that will be used in clinical trials to select patients for a particular treatment, stratify patients into molecularly defined subgroups, or choose between treatments for molecularly defined tumors, the National Cancer Institute has begun a pilot program designed to lessen barriers to the development of validated prognostic and predictive assays.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomedical Research
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pathology, Molecular / standards*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prognosis
  • United States
  • Validation Studies as Topic


  • Biomarkers, Tumor