Biomarker analysis is a method of proteomic analysis to study your genes and cells. Find out more about the benefits and types of biomarkers.
Biomarker analysis is a scientific method to study biological markers inside of your cells. There are many reasons to study biomarkers, but the most common one is testing pharmaceutical devices, including new medication, to see how it responds to your body. There are also certain medical conditions that require specialized treatment plans. Doctors are able to create these treatment plans by studying your biomarkers to determine how your body will react to the medication. It is especially important in testing for cancer and developing treatment plans.
There are many types of biomarkers throughout your body. The most common places biomarkers are studied are in your blood, body fluids or tissue. Studying biomarkers is part of another process, proteomic analysis. During proteomic analysis, scientists collect a sample of your cells and examine the proteome, typically using mass spectrometry. While it may sound complex, there are many benefits to understanding and using biomarker analysis.
Types of Biomarkers
There are several types of biomarkers, each which falls into a separate category. The first type is a genomic biomarker. These biomarkers contain a specific genetic sequence and are primarily studied to scan for diseases and come up with medical treatments. With certain diseases, such as cancer, your doctor must tailor the treatment based around the genetic sequence. Doctors also study your genomic biomarker to track the progress of your treatment. Studying your genetic sequence is also a way to identify what diseases you are at risk for, which can lead to preventative treatment.
The next type of biomarker is cellular. Cellular biomarkers can also be used to identify certain diseases, but it is more commonly used to study the effects of new medication. Unlike with a genetic sequence, doctors must collect a larger sample of your cells to study. If cellular biomarkers are unable to identify an issue, they may be studied further and compared against genomic biomarkers.
The final type is proteomic biomarkers. These biomarkers are specifically used to identify proteins. All living organisms contain proteins, which your body uses for vital life functions, such as building and repairing your muscles, creating hormones and enzymes and strengthening your bones. Studying proteomic biomarkers is an important part of developing new medications and treatments. It can also be used to track tumor progression.
In addition to the three primary types of biomarkers, doctors and scientists often divide biomarkers into categories. The categories are based on why the biomarkers are being collected. The first category is safety biomarkers. Safety biomarkers are used during drug discovery and development. The goal of the medication is to keep all the subject’s biomarkers within the range of the safety biomarkers. These treatments often involve complex conditions or illnesses that cause severe damage to the body, such as cancer or Alzheimer medications.
Diagnostic and Susceptibility Biomarkers
Diagnostic biomarkers are used in testing to look for specific diseases and conditions. Whenever there is a new medical condition, scientists will study patients to identify the diagnostic biomarkers, which is then used to develop screening methods. If your physician is unable to diagnose you, they may study your cells to look for diagnostic biomarkers.
Susceptibility biomarkers are similar to diagnostic biomarkers. These biomarkers are studied to see if you are at risk for specific conditions or diseases. Susceptibility biomarkers are an important part of developing countermeasures or preventative treatment. If you participate in a medical trial, your susceptibility biomarkers are frequently studied to see if the treatment was effective. This is how scientists and doctors develop vaccines.
Prognostic and Predictive Biomarkers
Prognostic biomarkers are primarily used in clinical trials. These biomarkers indicate the overall success of a medication. By studying these biomarkers, scientists can determine whether a medication will increase or decrease the likelihood of developing a condition. It can also be used to study the progression of an illness. In many trials, prognostic biomarkers are used to determine eligibility. Participants must have an existing biomarker before receiving the treatment to see if the biomarker improved or worsened during the course of the trial.
Predictive biomarkers are also used in treatment. These biomarkers are indicators a subject may be more receptive to treatment, typically based on information gained from previously studying prognostic biomarkers.
Response biomarkers are scientifically called pharmacodynamic biomarkers. These biomarkers are studied to reflect changes in your biomarkers because of outside elements, such as an environmental agent. These biomarkers are frequently studied to identify potential side effects with medication, or identify which medications cannot be taken at the same time. Response biomarkers are commonly associated with developing proof-of-concepts before a medical treatment enters clinical trials. Because these biomarkers take extended periods to see any changes, they are not used as frequently as the other categories.
The final category is monitoring biomarkers. This category refers to any biomarkers studied for a long period of time to determine whether there are any genetic or cellular changes. Monitoring biomarkers are used to track the progression of certain conditions and illnesses.
Qiagen is one of the largest biomarker analysis companies in the world. The main headquarters are located in Hilden, Germany, but there are many firms located throughout the world. Qiagen also owns many smaller subsidiaries, including GmbH and NeuMoDx Molecular. Most of the modern molecular diagnostic and testing tools are produced by Qiagen. While the firm largely focuses on developing new medical instruments, they still run pharmaceutical research based on biomarker analysis.
PerkinElmer was founded in the late 1930’s, making it one of the oldest biomarker analysis companies. The company specializes in using biomarkers for medical diagnoses. Today, the company almost exclusively develops new diagnostic tools as opposed to running clinical trials.
Unlike some of the other biomarker analysis companies, Enzo Biochem takes an active role in running clinical trials. The company has several smaller firms, Enzo Life Sciences, Clinical labs and Therapeutics. In the United States, they were one of the first companies to start studying biomarkers relating to Covid-19.