Learn more about Cancer biomarkers, Cancer biomarker detection and future of cancer
What is a cancer biomarker?
cancer biomarker is a biological factor which can be quantitatively measured to yield cancer related patient
information. This information includes cancer predisposition, state of cancerous growth, and early
detection. These biomarkers can be located in the genetic code, plasma, and other bodily fluids of
patients. Because they are present in both healthy and infected patients, it is important to take base
level readings of the biomarkers which are then closely monitored. The presence of cancerous cells will
cause fluctuations in these levels, which are the key to diagnosis.
How are cancer biomarkers detected?
Cancer biomarkers can be detected using various absorbance and fluorescence measuring techniques.
Currently, most of these tests must be performed by clinicians, although home tests are being
developed. One method of detection is the ELISA method, or Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
ELISA is used to detect antigen or antibody presence and is commonly utilized for diagnosis. An unknown
antigen concentration is adhered to the surface of a microtiter plate and combined with an antibody, which is
then bound to an enzyme. After both reactions take place, a solution is added which reacts with the
enzyme to emit a detectable signal. An automated detection system currently being researched is the
nanoDLSA. The nanoDLSA, developed by Qun Huo et al., is a dynamic light scattering system which
measures biomarker levels for cancer detection. It utilizes a pair of gold nanoparticle probes mixed
with a sample solution. The nanoparticle aggregation, caused by antigen-antibody binding, is measured
to yield the cancer marker antigen concentration. Currently, it has shown promise when compared to
What are some current cancer biomarkers?
commonly used serum biomarker is PSA, or prostate specific antigen. PSA is monitored to screen for
prostate issues, specifically prostate cancer. It is also present in the body under normal
conditions. Because PSA concentrations can become elevated due to other factors, such as prostate gland
infections, treatments are never made based on a PSA increase. However, abnormal levels are an
indicator for further testing.
new and exciting discovery is the anterior gradient protein 2 (ARG2) biomarker. This protein is present
in the blood of patients with ovarian cancer and can be utilized as an early detection tool. ARG2
concentrations can be monitored using an ELISA test and any abnormalities can be flagged for further
investigation. This diagnostic tool can be further improved when accompanied by the monitoring of
CA125, another ovarian cancer biomarker.
What does future hold for cancer biomarkers?
Foundation Medicine is a company looking to utilize the wide array of identified cancer genetics in order to
develop a comprehensive analysis of cancer samples. Currently, there are a limited amount of effective
targeted cancer treatments which recognize a single genetic mutation. Foundation Medicine believes
techniques can be greatly enhanced if drugs are tailored to target a combination of genetic mutations, rather
than a single aberration. The first step towards accomplishing this goal is in the creation of a cancer
sample analysis tool. They are developing such a tool that identifies genetic mutations within a sample
in order to be used for personalized drug development. This tool will be used by a clinician and will
yield in-depth information concerning a patient’s cancer that will be useful in diagnosis and treatment
planning. Current difficulties in developing such a tool include sample preservation, cost efficiency,
and ease of use. However, if this tool is successfully developed, the results will be
This video highlights the key to cancer biomarker discovery and benefits