Environmental Pollutants: Opening a Soup-Can of Worms

They are everywhere: so called ‘present organic pollutants’, or POPs for short.   Since almost all the everyday items that make modern life so much easier emerged from a chemical factory, its not surprising that environmental contamination with organic chemicals is increasing all the time – even ‘environmentally aware’ Western countries.  But maybe it will surprise

Smoke Screen: The intensifying debate about population screening generates more heat than light

If a test with prognostic value exists, should it be used for population screening? On the face of it, it’s a simple question, but it doesn’t have a simple answer.  Like most things in life, it depends on the context: how prevalent and how dangerous is the disease?  How invasive and how expensive is the

Personalized Medicine Demands Investment in Innovative Diagnostics: Will the Returns be High Enough?

Several very senior pharma executives were recently overhead by a journalist discussing what each of them viewed as the most important changes in the way healthcare will be delivered over the coming decade.  Each of them listed several such factors, including increased payor pressure on prices, the mounting regulatory burden and the shift toward orphan

Ultra-sensitive NMR-based diagnosis for infectious diseases: the tortoise races the hare again

Obtaining rapid and reliable diagnosis of infectious diseases is usually limited by the sensitivity of the detection technology.   Even in severe sepsis, accompanied by organ failure and admission to an intensive care unit, the causative organism is often present at a level of less than one bacterium per milliliter of blood.  Similarly, in candidiasis the

Chemokines as biomarkers for cancer: Time to revisit an old friend?

A wide-ranging study pre-published on-line in Nature last month points the finger at the chemokine CCL2 (also known as MCP-1, or JE in mice) as a key regulator of tumour metastasis.  Intriguingly, CCL2 seems to participate in the generation of clinically-relevant metastatic disease on multiple levels: it promotes seeding of the shed metastatic cells, but it

The final frontier – post-genomic biomarkers

Some biomarkers are easier to find than others.  Once a class of molecules has been noticed, and the assay methodology to measure their levels has been optimized, data rapidly accumulates.  Related molecules frequently pop up (often as a result of artifacts appearing in the assays under certain conditions or when particular samples are analysed).  Its

Finding exogenous biomarkers of heart disease: humans are ecosystems too!

It is ten years this week since the Total Scientific team, together with our collaborators at Imperial College in London submitted the first large-scale clinical metabolomics study for publication in Nature Medicine.  We applied proton NMR spectroscopy to serum samples collected from patients with coronary heart disease (defined by angiography), as well as control subjects

Biomarkers: lessons from history

The increase in the use of the term biomarker is a recent one.  When one looks back at the use of this term in the literature over the last fifty years, there was an explosive increase in its use in the 1980s and 1990s, and it continues to grow today.  However, biomarker research as we

Total Scientific

Total Scientific Ltd. is a contract research organisation that specialises in biomarkers.

The use of biomarkers is playing an ever-increasing role in both the pre-clinical and clinical phases of drug discovery, as well as its more traditional role as a core activity for many diagnostic companies. From target identification and validation, through pre-clinical and early clinical phases, the ability to predict or follow drug effects in vivo can significantly reduce the cost and time taken to develop new drugs.