(Very) Early technology assessment and translation of predictive biomarkers in breast cancer

Anna Miquel-Cases, Philip C. Schouten, Lotte M.G. Steuten, Valesca P. Retèl, Sabine C. Linn, Wim H. van Harten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
132 Downloads (Pure)


Predictive biomarkers can guide treatment decisions in breast cancer. Many studies are undertaken to discover and translate these biomarkers, yet few biomarkers make it to practice. Before use in clinical decision making, predictive biomarkers need to demonstrate analytical validity, clinical validity and clinical utility. While attaining analytical and clinical validity is relatively straightforward, by following methodological recommendations, the achievement of clinical utility is extremely challenging. It requires demonstrating three associations: the biomarker with the outcome (prognostic association), the effect of treatment independent of the biomarker, and the differential treatment effect between the prognostic and the predictive biomarker (predictive association). In addition, economical, ethical, regulatory, organizational and patient/doctor-related aspects are hampering the translational process. Traditionally, these aspects do not receive much attention until formal approval or reimbursement of a biomarker test (informed by Health Technology Assessment (HTA)) is at stake, at which point the clinical utility and sometimes price of the test can hardly be influenced anymore. When HTA analyses are performed earlier, during biomarker research and development, they may prevent further development of those biomarkers unlikely to ever provide sufficient added value to society, and rather facilitate translation of the promising ones. Early HTA is particularly relevant for the predictive biomarker field, as expensive medicines are under pressure and the need for biomarkers to guide their appropriate use is huge. Closer interaction between clinical researchers and HTA experts throughout the translational research process will ensure that available data and methodologies will be used most efficiently to facilitate biomarker translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-127
Number of pages11
JournalCancer treatment reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Breast cancer
  • Health Technology Assessment
  • Predictive biomarkers


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