While there are tens of thousands of publications describing outcome-associated biomarkers in cancer (a PubMed search for “tissue” “biomarker” “cancer” provides > 90000 hits), only a handful of them have advanced to clinical use. There are clear reasons for the dismal success rate; among the most important are poor cohort design (e.g. mixed biological entities), insufficient cohort size and a lack of detailed longitudinal clinical information. In order to demonstrate that a biomarker mirrors biological features, clinical outcome-related factors, including disease stage, treatments and comorbidities need to be carefully stratified. For this purpose, large patient cohorts, combining annotated biological specimens and detailed longitudinal clinical information are needed.
Finland, with its hospital-integrated biobanks, is in a unique position to advance biomarker discovery by combining excellent cohorts with novel analytical technologies and computational tools. Our laboratory focuses on novel approaches to identify tissue-based biomarkers for prognostic and predictive cancer diagnostics.