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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Dec;1796(2):176-93. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2009.04.004. Epub 2009 May 4.

Genomic and proteomic biomarkers for cancer: a multitude of opportunities.

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Program in Molecular Biology and Genetics, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Department of Pathology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, USA.


Biomarkers are molecular indicators of a biological status, and as biochemical species can be assayed to evaluate the presence of cancer and therapeutic interventions. Through a variety of mechanisms cancer cells provide the biomarker material for their own detection. Biomarkers may be detectable in the blood, other body fluids, or tissues. The expectation is that the level of an informative biomarker is related to the specific type of disease present in the body. Biomarkers have potential both as diagnostic indicators and monitors of the effectiveness of clinical interventions. Biomarkers are also able to stratify cancer patients to the most appropriate treatment. Effective biomarkers for the early detection of cancer should provide a patient with a better outcome which in turn will translate into more efficient delivery of healthcare. Technologies for the early detection of cancer have resulted in reductions in disease-associated mortalities from cancers that are otherwise deadly if allowed to progress. Such screening technologies have proven that early detection will decrease the morbidity and mortality from cancer. An emerging theme in biomarker research is the expectation that panels of biomarker analytes rather than single markers will be needed to have sufficient sensitivity and specificity for the presymptomatic detection of cancer. Biomarkers may provide prognostic information of disease enabling interventions using targeted therapeutic agents as well as course-corrections in cancer treatment. Novel genomic, proteomic and metabolomic technologies are being used to discover and validate tumor biomarkers individually and in panels.

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