Biomarker - any biological signal that can be used to inform clinicians about a particular disease.
You’ve probably heard the term “biomarker” at some point while exploring current trends in cancer treatment. But what does the term really mean? The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined a biomarker as “any substance, structure, or process that can be measured in the body or its products and influence or predict the incidence of outcome or disease”. Essentially, a biomarker is any biological signal that can be detected and used as information for treatment purposes. This is particularly relevant for cancer research where the biology is often complex and unique for each patient and cancer type. Biomarker information obtained from diagnostics of patient biopsies can help distinguish a cancer’s unique signature profile. This information can be extremely useful in distinguishing a patient’s cancer risk, prognosis, malignancy and response to therapy (Ludwig and Weinstein 2005).