What are biomarkers, one of the latest revolutions in medicine

The field of biomarkers is one of the most buoyant in medical research carried out today. In all kinds of diseases, scientists are looking for them with perseverance, since they open the door to great improvements in the clinical approach.

Definition and characteristics

This issue was discussed in the first edition of the event This is science, not fiction, organized by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and focused on cutting-edge advances in medical research.

The device hardly needs a drop of blood to return a result.

Thus, as explained by the US National Cancer Institute and quoted from Pfizer, a biomarker is “a biological molecule found in the blood, other fluids, or other tissues of the body, and whose presence is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, condition, or disease”.

That is, a biomarker is used to detect with certainty certain bodily processes or pathologies. Therefore, it must meet a series of characteristics: they must be objectively measurable, they must be specific and they must be sensitive.


The benefits of biomarkers they are very spacious. For example, they can provide information about the risk of suffering from a certain disease, or they can indicate how the patient is going to evolve (predictive biomarkers). Also, they can be diagnostic tools that provide certainty about a patient’s pathology or that allow evaluating the response to treatment.

Colon cancer is one of the deadliest in Spain.

Equally interesting are its applications in cutting-edge areas of medicine and research, such as personalized and precision medicine. Regarding these latter areas, Ángel Carracedo, coordinator of the Genomic Medicine Group at the University of Santiago de Compostela and director of the Galician Public Foundation for Genomic Medicine, explained at the event that “the study of biomarkers, and their applications in medical field, has allowed us to develop personalized medicine”.

“Usually, we use genetic biomarkers, although they can be of any type, and the future lies in the integration of biomarkers and clinical data. These biomarkers are what differentiate us and allow us to reduce patients into groups, in order to personalize treatments and medicines and, with them, the approach of some pathologies, managing to improve the efficacy of the therapies offered to patients”.

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