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The Journal of pathology

Pathology in drug discovery and development.


PMID 24122335

Abstract

The rapid pace of drug discovery and drug development in oncology, immunology and ophthalmology brings new challenges; the efficient and effective development of new targeted drugs will require more detailed molecular classifications of histologically homogeneous diseases that show heterogeneous clinical outcomes. To this end, single companion diagnostics for specific drugs will be replaced by multiplex diagnostics for entire therapeutic areas, preserving tissue and enabling rapid molecular taxonomy. The field will move away from the development of new molecular entities as single agents, to which resistance is common. Instead, a detailed understanding of the pathological mechanisms of resistance, in patients and in preclinical models, will be key to the validation of scientifically rational and clinically effective drug combinations. To remain at the heart of disease diagnosis and appropriate management, pathologists must evolve into translational biologists and biomarker scientists. Herein, we provide examples of where this metamorphosis has already taken place, in lung cancer and melanoma, where the transformation has yet to begin, in the use of immunotherapies for ophthalmology and oncology, and where there is fertile soil for a revolution in treatment, in efforts to classify glioblastoma and personalize treatment. The challenges of disease heterogeneity, the regulatory environment and adequate tissue are ever present, but these too are being overcome in dedicated academic centres. In summary, the tools necessary to overcome the 'whens' and 'ifs' of the molecular revolution are in the hands of pathologists today; it is a matter of standardization, training and leadership to bring these into routine practice and translate science into patient benefit. This Annual Review Issue of the Journal of Pathology highlights the central role for pathology in modern drug discovery and development.