Biomarkers are medically used as a measurable characteristic that mirrors the severity or presence of a disease. Anything that can be used to indicate a particular disease or physiological state can be considered a biomarker: from a substance introduced in an organism to allow organ function examination, to a substance whose presence designates a particular disease state — for example, how antibodies may indicate an infection.
A biomarker points out a modification in a protein’s state or expression — a change that correlates with the risk or progression of a certain disease — but it can also show how susceptible a disease will be to a particular medicine or treatment.
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Biomarkers, as characteristic biological properties, can be found and quantified in different parts of the body, such as in tissue or blood, and may mark either normal or ill processes in the body.
Specific cells, molecules, or genes, gene products, enzymes, or hormones – they can all be biomarkers. Some complex organ functions and changes in biological structures can also be reckoned as biomarkers.
Body temperature is a biomarker for fever. The risk of having a stroke can be defined by blood pressure, so blood pressure counts as a biomarker. The same applies to cholesterol values that indicate the risk of vascular and coronary diseases. A protein can also be a biomarker, as CRP (C-reactive protein) is for inflammation.
Biomarkers as parameters
A biomarker is a parameter in a way that it is possible to use it to measure a disease’s progress or treatment effects. There are three kinds of parameters: chemical, physical or biological. When examined in molecular terms, a biomarker is the subset of markers that might be discovered using genomics, proteomics technologies or imaging technologies. Biomarkers play major roles in medicinal biology. Biomarkers are usefully in initial diagnosis, disease prevention, medication response and target identification, among others. Gene based biomarker is believed to be an effective and acceptable way of studying human disease.
Biomarkers’ uses and applications
If a biomarker is biochemical, it will probably be used in clinical trials, where those types of markers derive from bodily fluids easily available to the early phase researchers. In the search for finding possible genetic causes of diseases like schizophrenia, a special kind of biomarker – an endophenotype – has been used. It is also possible to use other biomarkers to base the measurement of the brain’s electrical activity, through electroencephalography or magnetoencephalography. They can also be used in certain brain regions for volumetric measures, via magnetic resonance imaging.