The author learned a new word this weekend while attending the annual meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists in Philadelphia.

In a richly-informative session on ethics of clinical trials, one of the speakers, Dr. Jason Karlawish – a bioethicist, geriatrician and Alzheimer’s researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, taught me a new term: theranostic (alt. spelling: theragnostic).

The neologism calculatingly brings together the concepts of medical therapy and diagnosis. This goes beyond biomarkers, he explained; theranostics are novel tests or diagnostic markers that would identify patients who, as defined, benefit from a particular therapy.

The first international conference on theranostics will be held in June, he told the audience.

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