Translation of proteomic biomarkers into FDA approved cancer diagnostics: Issues and challenges

Anna K. Füzéry, Joshua Levin, Maria M. Chan, Daniel W. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


Tremendous efforts have been made over the past few decades to discover novel cancer biomarkers for use in clinical practice. However, a striking discrepancy exists between the effort directed toward biomarker discovery and the number of markers that make it into clinical practice. One of the confounding issues in translating a novel discovery into clinical practice is that quite often the scientists working on biomarker discovery have limited knowledge of the analytical, diagnostic, and regulatory requirements for a clinical assay. This review provides an introduction to such considerations with the aim of generating more extensive discussion for study design, assay performance, and regulatory approval in the process of translating new proteomic biomarkers from discovery into cancer diagnostics. We first describe the analytical requirements for a robust clinical biomarker assay, including concepts of precision, trueness, specificity and analytical interference, and carryover. We next introduce the clinical considerations of diagnostic accuracy, receiver operating characteristic analysis, positive and negative predictive values, and clinical utility. We finish the review by describing components of the FDA approval process for proteinbased biomarkers, including classification of biomarker assays as medical devices, analytical and clinical performance requirements, and the approval process workflow. While we recognize that the road from biomarker discovery, validation, and regulatory approval to the translation into the clinical setting could be long and difficult, the reward for patients, clinicians and scientists could be rather significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalClinical Proteomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Analytical performance
  • Clinical performance
  • Food and drug administration
  • Proteomic biomarker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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