Biomarker testing often called “molecular testing” or genetic testing” is a process discovered to measure a molecule from the human body to asses his/her health. The word “biomarker” itself refers to any of the molecules present in the body that can be obtained through body fluid, blood or tissues. Biomarker testing is a group of tests that looks for signs of diseases on the molecular level and help doctors to plan the best care for the patient.
Biomarker assay is a great discovery in the field of pharmaceuticals, blood-test or other biomarkers that can serve as intermediate markers of disease in clinical trials and as possible drug targets. This discovery is becoming more successful each day with the advancements of molecular biology. Biomarker testing for the diagnosis and management of cardiovascular diseases, infections, immunological and genetic disorders, and cancer are well known.
Cancer occurs due to abnormal changes within the human genome and this can be tested with the help of cancer biomarkers. They can detect any abnormality within the normal chromosome sequence of a person. Cancer biomarkers are used for different purposes, such as it can be used to detect the chances of a person to develop cancer or can be used to diagnose the stage of cancer in a person. After the diagnosis, these biomarkers are used to figure out whether the targeted therapy would work. They also help in tracking the progress of the treatment.
Generally, biomarkers are categorized as molecular imaging (done in PET, MRI, and CT) and psychometric biomarkers( i.e, loss of memory to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease). Several biomarkers have been identified for many diseases such as serum LDL for cholesterol, blood pressure, and P53 gene and MMPs as tumor markers for cancer. A biomarker is a newer term introduced in the medicine industry, but its use is quite common for a longer time. The body’s high temperature is a biomarker for fever! Increased blood pressure and cholesterol are the biomarkers for heart stroke. High cholesterol values detect the risk of coronary and vascular diseases. The presence of antibodies and C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation.
Categories of biomarkers:
Disease-related biomarkers: these biomarkers give an indication about the effects of treatment on the patient, helps in the diagnosis of the disease and how such a disease can develop in an individual.
Drug-related biomarkers: in contrast to the disease-related biomarkers, these biomarkers indicate the effects of a particular drug on a specific person and how his body will process it.
As seen above, biomarker testing has proved to be a boon in the pharmaceutical industry. Cancer, which is considered as one of the deadliest diseases in the world, can be diagnosed with these and is considerably more efficient than biopsy or other tests. Professionals are working on the development of biomarkers for AIDS, which is another most dangerous disease. The effects of different drugs development process on this disease and early signs, all are being tested to help cure more and more people.
In this growing world of science and technology, molecular biology and biomarker testing have been proved to be a boon in saving lives!