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Disease Markers
Volume 18, Issue 2, Pages 41-46

Overview of Biomarkers and Surrogate Endpoints in Drug Development

John A. Wagner

Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, NJ, USA

Received 18 September 2002; Accepted 18 September 2002

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There are numerous factors that recommend the use of biomarkers in drug development including the ability to provide a rational basis for selection of lead compounds, as an aid in determining or refining mechanism of action or pathophysiology, and the ability to work towards qualification and use of a biomarker as a surrogate endpoint. Examples of biomarkers come from many different means of clinical and laboratory measurement. Total cholesterol is an example of a clinically useful biomarker that was successfully qualified for use as a surrogate endpoint. Biomarkers require validation in most circumstances. Validation of biomarker assays is a necessary component to delivery of high-quality research data necessary for effective use of biomarkers. Qualification is necessary for use of a biomarker as a surrogate endpoint. Putative biomarkers are typically identified because of a relationship to known or hypothetical steps in a pathophysiologic cascade. Biomarker discovery can also be effected by expression profiling experiment using a variety of array technologies and related methods. For example, expression profiling experiments enabled the discovery of adipocyte related complement protein of 30 kD (Acrp30 or adiponectin) as a biomarker for in vivo activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) γ activity.