Canada focuses on biomarkers on road to personalized medicine

The website of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is running a feature on the importance of biomarkers in our march toward personalized medicine. It begins with a fact that we are all too familiar with--that despite wonderful advances in medical science, "much of the practice of medicine remains imprecise" and people are treated with a one-size-fits-all regimen--especially when it comes to cancer. Unfortunately, cancer can be a very personalized affliction, and no two are necessarily the same in every patient. Enter biomarkers.

"The discovery and harnessing of biomarkers heralds a new frontier in health care, bringing with it the promise of more certainty and the prospect of personalized medicine," the CIHR feature says. "That's why CIHR is investing in biomarker research."

The feature mentions some prominent Canadian biomarker researchers, including Kirk Schultz and Paul Nathan in Vancouver and Toronto, who are identifying childhood cancer biomarkers in blood and saliva. Bruce McManus is looking at biomarkers to see which patients are most likely to reject organs after transplant. And, in Montreal, Gustavo Turecki is studying biomarkers to help predict which patients will respond to particular antidepressants.

- read more on the CIHR site