BIOMARKERS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     24th April 2024        

Context: The exploration of blood biomarkers for cancer screening has emerged as a promising approach for early diagnosis of the disease.


  • About: The WHO defines a biomarker as “any measurement reflecting an interaction between a biological system and a potential hazard, which may be chemical, physical, or biological. The measured response may be functional and physiological, biochemical at the cellular level, or a molecular interaction”.
  • Alternate Names: Experts also call them molecular markers and signature molecules.
  • Biomolecules Included: Carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, genes, DNA, RNA, platelets, enzymes, hormones, etc.
  • Example of Cancer biomarkers: It  can be DNA, mRNA, proteins, metabolites, or processes such as apoptosis, angiogenesis or proliferation.
  • Classification of Biomarkers:

o Molecular Biomarkers: Have biophysical properties, which allow their measurements in biological samples such as blood plasma, serum, cerebrospinal fluid, bronchoalveolar lavage, biopsy, urinalysis, and fecal analysis.

o Radiographic Biomarkers: Obtained from imaging studies, for example, bone mineral density.

o Histologic Biomarkers: Reflect biochemical or molecular alteration in cells, tissues, or fluids; for example, the staging and grading of cancers.

o Physiologic Biomarkers: Measures of body processes, for example, blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate.

  • Functions

o Biomarkers serve as valuable tools for estimating the risk of various diseases, aiding in early intervention and management strategies.

o These are instrumental in screening for hidden primary cancers, facilitating early detection and treatment.

o Biomarkers play a crucial role in distinguishing between benign and malignant findings, enabling accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment planning.

o It can differentiate between different types of malignancies, allowing for precise diagnosis and tailored treatment approaches.

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