Noninvasive biomarkers are needed to monitor stable patients following kidney transplantation (KT), as subclinical rejection, currently detectable only with invasive surveillance biopsies, can lead to chronic rejection and graft loss. Several biomarkers have recently been developed to detect rejection in KT recipients, using different technologies as well as varying clinical monitoring strategies defined as "context of use (COU)." The various metrics utilized to evaluate the performance of each biomarker can also vary, depending on their intended COU. As the use of molecular biomarkers in transplantation represents a new era in patient management, it is important for clinicians to better understand the process by which the incremental value of each biomarkers is evaluated to determine its potential role in clinical practice. This process includes but is not limited to an assessment of clinical validity and utility, but to define these, the clinician must first appreciate the trajectory of a biomarker from bench to bedside as well as the regulatory and other requirements needed to navigate this course successfully. This overview summarizes this process, providing a framework that can be used by clinicians as a practical guide in general, and more specifically in the context of subclinical rejection following KT. In addition, we have reviewed available as well as promising biomarkers for this purpose in terms of the clinical need, COU, assessment of biomarker performance relevant to both the need and COU, assessment of biomarker benefits and risks relevant to the COU, and the evidentiary criteria of the biomarker relevant to the COU compared with the current standard of care. We also provide an insight into the path required to make biomarkers commercially available once they have been developed and validated so that they used by clinicians outside the research context in every day clinical practice.
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