What are Biomarkers?

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What are Biomarkers? Blog Image


Screening for blood biomarkers has been proposed as a potential way to diagnose cancer at earlier stages of the disease.

About Biomarkers

  • Biomarkers, short for ‘Biological Markers’ are a physical, chemical, or biological characteristic that is present in the human body, and measurable too.
  • The WHO defines a biomarker as “any measurement reflecting an interaction between a biological system and a potential hazard, which may be chemical, physical, or biological. The measured response may be functional and physiological, biochemical at the cellular level, or a molecular interaction”.
  • Experts also call them molecular markers and signature molecules.
  • They are indispensable in diagnosing disease, prescribing the right medication, right dosage, and even while designing new drugs.
  • Biomarkers include biomolecules like carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, genes, DNA, RNA, platelets, enzymes, hormones, etc.
  • Classification of Biomarkers:
    • Based on their source or location:
    • Molecularhave biophysical properties, which allow their measurements in biological samples such as blood plasma, serum, cerebrospinal fluid, bronchoalveolar lavage, biopsy, urinalysis, and faecal analysis
    • Radiographic – obtained from imaging studies, for example, bone mineral density
    • Histologic – reflect biochemical or molecular alteration in cells, tissues, or fluids; for example, the staging and grading of cancers
    • Physiologicmeasures of body processes, for example, blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate
  • Based on roles/functions:
    • Susceptibility/Risk Biomarkers: Indicate the person’s likelihood of developing a particular disease or condition in the near or distant future. 
    • Diagnostic Biomarkers: These are used to detect or confirm a particular disease or condition.
    • Prognostic Biomarkers: In people who already are confirmed to have a disease, prognostic biomarkers can predict the likelihood of disease progression or relapse.
    • Monitoring Biomarkers: These biomarkers are used for one or all of these reasons: to assess the stage or condition of the disease, to measure the exposure to a particular drug, and to measure exposure to an environmental agent. 
    • Predictive Biomarkers: These are used to identify individuals who have a higher likelihood of experiencing a strong outcome when exposed to a particular drug. This will help decide the treatment options.

Pharmacodynamic/Response Biomarkers: These reveal that a biological response has happened in patients exposed to a particular drug or environmental agent.

Q1: What are lipids?

Lipids are fatty compounds that perform a variety of functions in your body. They’re part of your cell membranes and help control what goes in and out of your cells. They help with moving and storing energy, absorbing vitamins and making hormones. Having too much of some lipids is harmful.

Source: Detecting cancer in minutes possible with just a drop of dried blood and new test, study hints