Every living being has cells, structures, and molecules that often change state to indicate many things like a disease, growth, and more. These are distinct components that can be collected and measured like your blood, serum, plasma, etc, and are called biological markers or biomarkers, in short.
You can run a bunch of tests and analyses on these components. For example, you can measure the temperature of the blood to determine if a patient is having a stroke, as an elevated temperature is a symptom of an impending stroke. Such tests and analyses are called biomarker analyses.
Let’s do a deep dive to see what this is all about.
Types of Biomarkers
Biomarkers can be broadly divided into three categories, and they are:
Let’s briefly look at what each of these means.
Predictive biomarkers are those that are useful in predicting certain clinical outcomes. These are mostly used to understand the likelihood of the success of a specific treatment or therapy, so appropriate decisions can be made using it.
For example, predictive biomarkers used in colorectal cancer can be used to predict and accordingly, improve the patient survival rate. In turn, this can reduce patients from going through unwanted toxicity.
As the name suggests, diagnostic biomarkers narrow down the possibilities in a diagnosis, so you can get to the specific underlying condition impacting a patient.
These types of biological markers tend to be traceable substances that are introduced to an organism to check for specific reactions, so decisions can be made accordingly. A good example is the presence of an antibody in an infection to determine the nature of the infection itself.
A prognostic biomarker is something that provides information about a patient’s outcome, regardless of the therapy used. This is more like a final result like a pregnancy test.
Applications of Biomarkers
The applications of biomarkers go beyond just the medical field and extend to other areas such as chemical, geology, and astrobiology.
In geology, these biomarkers are used to determine the presence of certain substances in a mix. For example, biomarkers were used to determine which areas were affected by an oil spill, so the necessary action can be taken in that geographical area to clean up the oil spill.
Another area where it is extensively used in ecotoxicology, where the impact of pesticides is assessed on living organisms, to determine if they should be continued to be used or not. In chemistry, the impact of chemicals on some materials is evaluated using biomarkers to check if they are safe to be used on those materials.
It is also used widely in the generation of crude oil and to determine if certain chemicals are present in areas before digging or drilling deep down.
These are just some examples of its applications and merits to know that biomarker analysis has applications across a wide range of industries. There’s also a lot of potential for extending its use to more areas in the near future.
We hope this article gives you an idea of what a biomarker analysis is, so you can determine how and where it can be used.