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What are biomarkers and why are they important?

Despite major advances in available treatments for cancer in general, little progress has been made in pancreatic cancer in recent years. Survival rates remain very low compared to other types of cancer. A major reason for this is that symptoms only appear at a late stage of the disease and pancreatic cancer is therefore often detected (too) late.

Medical indicator

A biomarker is a medical indicator that can be measured in a reliable and reproducible manner. A biomarker is considered to be reliable when there is a measurable difference between a sick and a healthy person.

This broad definition includes all kinds of biological, chemical, and other processes in the body. A biomarker can be the measurement of a heartbeat or a small change in DNA. Glucose levels in the blood, for example, are a suitable biomarker for monitoring and treating diabetes.

A biomarker can tell us more about

  • Normal body processes (e.g. heart rate, blood pressure or body temperature)
  • Disease processes (e.g. risk of developing a disease, mutations in the BRCA gene in breast cancer)
  • Physiological changes (e.g. increased cholesterol as an indicator of development of cardiovascular disease)
  • The response to a particular treatment (e.g. glucose measurements during treatment of diabetes)

Biomarker measurement depends very much on the type of biomarker. The heart rate is measured by attaching sensors to the body that read biometric data. 

When changes in DNA or other small molecules are measured, they are called molecular biomarkers and other scientific methods must be used to detect them.

Why are biomarkers usefull?

Medicine considers biomarkers a very valuable tool because they can be used in many ways. They can detect the presence of a disease, estimate its severity, or even find out what the chances are of the disease ever developing. In addition, biomarkers can also be used to make therapeutic decisions as they can monitor and even predict the effectiveness of a treatment.

Biomarker research at ElmediX

ElmediX is currently developing a biomarker that can predict whether hyperthermia treatment might be effective in a specific patient. By developing a predictive biomarker for hyperthermia, we can screen patients and specifically treat those patients who will benefit the most. This research is done in the light of personalized medicine, so that we can provide each patient with the optimal care.

ElmediX strives to improve quality of life

ElmediX strives to extend the lives of cancer patients worldwide and to improve their quality of life. Initially, our focus is on pancreatic cancer, but other cancer types are also being investigated.