Biomarker research suffers from too much 'hype'

OncLive is the latest publication in the last few months trying to make sense of the slow progress from lab to clinic in what it calls "the vast, ever-changing, and controversial frontier of biomarker research." In Krystal Knapp's insightful report, she interviews Sudhir Srivastava, founding chief of the Cancer Biomarkers Research Group at the National Cancer Institute, who puts some of the blame on the researchers, themselves.

"With almost every paper, even if there is a remote chance of success, you see a press release hyping a discovery, but later on they fail," Srivastava tells OncLive. "The public gets so excited about it that they demand we must succeed as soon as possible. But the fact of the matter is, the hype usually does not translate into clinical studies." But Srivastava adds he is optimistic that, as the various branches of scientific research necessary for biomarker discovery come together, "more breakthroughs are a matter of time."

Knapp reports on some of the recent high-profile biomarker research failures--including flawed statistical analysis at Duke University resulting in tests that "turned out to be worthless, though they were once hailed as a breakthrough that was seen as the first fruit of the new genomics." The National Cancer Institute did a random review of 1,000 biomarker-discovery papers and found, Srivastava tells Knapp, that there was a lot of hype in 90% of the papers.

Srivastava identifies three key hurdles biomarker research must overcome: lack of sufficient funding, lack of foundational studies and lack of quality biological samples for testing. The article goes into other issues, including deciding which biomarkers are really worth measuring or whether they may result in more useless tests.

- read the article in OncLive
- check out more background info from the Cancer Biomarkers Collaborative