Biomarkers are the pillars of precision medicine and are delivering on expectations of molecular, quantitative health. These features have made clinical decisions more precise and personalized, but require a high bar for validation. Biomarkers have improved health outcomes in a few areas such as cancer, pharmacogenetics, and safety. Burgeoning big data research infrastructure, the internet of things, and increased patient participation will accelerate discovery in the many areas that have not yet realized the full potential of biomarkers for precision health. Here we review themes of biomarker discovery, current implementations of biomarkers for precision health, and future opportunities and challenges for biomarker discovery. Impact statement Precision medicine evolved because of the understanding that human disease is molecularly driven and is highly variable across patients. This understanding has made biomarkers, a diverse class of biological measurements, more relevant for disease diagnosis, monitoring, and selection of treatment strategy. Biomarkers' impact on precision medicine can be seen in cancer, pharmacogenomics, and safety. The successes in these cases suggest many more applications for biomarkers and a greater impact for precision medicine across the spectrum of human disease. The authors assess the status of biomarker-guided medical practice by analyzing themes for biomarker discovery, reviewing the impact of these markers in the clinic, and highlight future and ongoing challenges for biomarker discovery. This work is timely and relevant, as the molecular, quantitative approach of precision medicine is spreading to many disease indications.
Keywords: Biomarkers; drug discovery; mechanisms; molecular; precision medicine; therapeutics.