Biomarkers in clinical medicine.
Chen X-H., Huang S., Kerr D.
Biomarkers have been used in clinical medicine for decades. With the rise of genomics and other advances in molecular biology, biomarker studies have entered a whole new era and hold promise for early diagnosis and effective treatment of many diseases. A biomarker is a characteristic that is objectively measured and evaluated as an indicator of normal biological processes, pathogenic processes or pharmacologic responses to a therapeutic intervention (1). They can be classified into five categories based on their application in different disease stages: 1) antecedent biomarkers to identify the risk of developing an illness, 2) screening biomarkers to screen for subclinical disease, 3) diagnostic biomarkers to recognize overt disease, 4) staging biomarkers to categorise disease severity, and 5) prognostic biomarkers to predict future disease course, including recurrence, response to therapy, and monitoring efficacy of therapy (1). Biomarkers can indicate a variety of health or disease characteristics, including the level or type of exposure to an environmental factor, genetic susceptibility, genetic responses to environmental exposures, markers of subclinical or clinical disease, or indicators of response to therapy. This chapter will focus on how these biomarkers have been used in preventive medicine, diagnostics, therapeutics and prognostics, as well as public health and their current status in clinical practice.