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Following recent discoveries by its researchers that could significantly change the diagnosis and treatment of a number of diseases, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-School of Osteopathic Medicine has established the Biomarker Discovery Center on its Stratford campus. The new center will be under the direction of Robert Nagele, PhD, professor of Medicine at the medical school’s New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging. Dr. Nagele’s published research includes recent findings that show how blood-borne biomarkers can potentially be used to diagnose early stages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
“The Biomarker Discovery Center will build on the progress our scientists have made toward a new way to diagnose and treat many types of disease,” said Dr. Thomas Cavalieri, dean of the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. “The Biomarker Discovery Center will be part of our nationally renowned New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging but will integrate resources from several departments to boost research that targets such conditions as cancer, multiple sclerosis, autism and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.”
Scientific and medical interest in biomarkers has intensified in recent years. In October 2006, the Biomarkers Consortium, a public-private research partnership, was launched to promote the discovery, validation, development and regulatory acceptance of biomarkers. Consortium members include the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and numerous for-profit pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies. Industry analysis estimates that the biomarker industry is currently worth more than $13 billion and that value is expected to double over the next five years.
“Biomarkers allow us to measure an individual’s risk of disease and current status in a disease process, and the ability of medications or other therapies to halt the progression of the disease,” Dr. Nagele said. “The need for early diagnostics that are accurate, relatively non-invasive and cost effective is critical. An early diagnosis gives patients and their physicians the advantage of combating a disease at a time when treatment is most likely to have the greatest benefit.”
Several ongoing projects at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine will contribute to the Biomarker Discovery Center’s collaborative programs. These include research aimed at discovering blood-based biomarkers for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and various types of cancer, as well as investigating the potential utility of these biomarkers for monitoring the beneficial effects of drugs that may become available in the future to treat these diseases.