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The Early Detection Research Network's Specimen reference sets: paving the way for rapid evaluation of potential biomarkers.

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Clin. Chem.. 2013 Jan 59 (1).

The mission of the National Cancer Institute's Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) is to identify and validate cancer biomarkers for clinical use. Since its inception, EDRN investigators have learned a great deal about the process of validating biomarkers for clinical use. Translational research requires a broad spectrum of research expertise, and coordinating collaborative activities can be challenging. The EDRN has developed a robust triage and validation system that serves the roles of both "facilitator" and "brake."

The system consists of (a) establishing a reference set of specimens collected under PRoBE (Prospective Specimen Collection Retrospective Blinded Evaluation) design criteria; (b) using the reference set to prevalidate candidate biomarkers before committing to full-scale validation; (c) performing full-scale validation for those markers that pass prevalidation testing; and (d) ensuring that the reference set is sufficiently large in numbers and volumes of sample that it can also be used to study future candidate biomarkers. This system provides rigorous and efficient evaluation of candidate biomarkers and biomarker panels. Reference sets should also be constructed to enable high-quality biomarker-discovery research.

We describe the process of establishing our system in the hope that it will serve as an example of how to validate biomarkers for clinical application. We also hope that this description of the biospecimen reference sets available from the EDRN will encourage the biomarker research community--from academia or industry--to use this resource to advance biomarkers into clinical use.

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