As pharmaceutical companies delve further into personalised medicine, the field of ‘theranostics’ is going to become an area where drugmakers will need to strengthen their presence, according to a new report.

Frost & Sullivan has issued a new analysis focusing on the European markets for theranostics, which involves developing molecular assays to help predict the most suitable drug for a patient along with assessing its efficacy. Determining the optimum dose of drugs is paving the way for personalised medicine and “although significant awareness has been created” about the latter, “its full potential is yet to be tapped”.

F&S argues that theranostics “plays a crucial role in every step of drug development process, primarily in the form of biomarker discovery, target selection and validation of biomarkers”. Its key applications are in cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neuro disorders. Analyst Gayathry Ramachandran says the emergence of personalised medicine with the help of theranostics “is a milestone in the drug therapy process” and adds that it is a “well-understood science, yet pharmaceutical companies have been late adopters. It is rare to see large pharma and diagnostic companies branding themselves as theranostic companies”.

However, the report notes that “the high cost associated with genetic testing for the identification of biomarkers poses a challenge to the success of theranostics”. Furthermore, it states that “the uncertainty associated with the clinical utility of biomarkers discovered will negatively impact the return-on-investment”.

The analysis goes on to claim that “improved cooperation between drug and diagnostic companies will enhance the success of theranostics”. Commercialisation of the latter “will be possible by effective communication with the physicians to understand its penetration in the market”, F&S adds.

Mr Ramachandran concludes that firms “focusing on theranostics with already-licensed drugs can play a key role in reaching out to larger pharmaceutical companies” who “should be aware of the importance of linking diagnostics to its drug development process”.