Mapping translational research in personalized therapeutics:: from molecular markers to health policy

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Translational research is frequently used in the bioscience literature to refer to the translation of basic science into practical applications at the point of patient care. With the introduction of theragnostics, a new medical subspecialty that fuses therapeutics and diagnostic medicine with the goal of providing individualized pharmacotherapy, we suggest that the focus of translational research is shifting. We identify two bottlenecks or gaps in translational research for theragnostics: GAP1 translation from basic science to first-in-human proof-of-concept; and GAP2 translation from clinical proof-of-concept to development of evidence-based personalized treatment guidelines. GAP1 translational research in theragnostics is usually performed in traditional craft-based studies with small sample sizes and led by independent academic or industry researchers. In contrast, GAP2 translational investigations typically rely on large research consortiums and population-based biobanks that couple biomarker information with longitudinal ‘real-life’ observational data on a broad range of pharmacological phenotypes. Despite an abundance of research on the use of biobanks in disease gene discovery, there has been little conceptual work on whether and to what extent population biobanks can be utilized for translating genomics discoveries to practical treatment guidelines for theragnostic tests.

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