Biomarkers and Surrogate Endpoints: Lessons Learned From Glaucoma.
With the recent progress in imaging technologies for assessment of structural damage in glaucoma, a debate has emerged on whether these measurements can be used as valid surrogate endpoints in clinical trials evaluating new therapies for the disease. A discussion of surrogates should be grounded on knowledge acquired from their use in other areas of medicine as well as regulatory requirements. This article reviews the conditions for valid surrogacy in the context of glaucoma clinical trials and critically evaluates the role of biomarkers such as IOP and imaging measurements as potential surrogates for clinically relevant outcomes. Valid surrogate endpoints must be able to predict a clinically relevant endpoint, such as loss of vision or decrease in quality of life. In addition, the effect of a proposed treatment on the surrogate must capture the effect of the treatment on the clinically relevant endpoint. Despite its widespread use in clinical trials, no proper validation of IOP as a surrogate endpoint has yet been conducted for any class of IOP-lowering treatments. Although strong evidence has accumulated about imaging measurements as predictors of relevant functional outcomes in glaucoma, there is still insufficient evidence to support their use as valid surrogate endpoints. However, imaging biomarkers could potentially be used as part of composite endpoints in glaucoma trials, overcoming weaknesses of the use of structural or functional endpoints in isolation. Efforts should be taken to properly design and conduct studies that can provide proper validation of potential biomarkers in glaucoma clinical trials.
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