The Promise of Biomarkers and Antibodies

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Biomarkers, an abbreviation of “biological markers,” serve as medical indicators for the disease state observed from outside the patient. This measure is both precise and replicable, and accounts for a chemical, physical, or biological response. [1]

Biomarkers have been around for quite some time, and we see examples of them in our everyday lives. Blood pressure, for example, can serve as a biomarker for the physiological state of a patient or a patient population. Similarly, body temperature, or presence of a fever, can indicate to us a change in a person’s state of being, from diseased to healthy or vice versa.

Biomarkers are often used as clinical endpoints while measuring biological processes, especially as a function of disease. Biomarkers are often surrogate endpoints in clinical trials; that is, they serve as substitutes when a clinically relevant endpoint cannot be identified. The advantage to this is that many clinical endpoints, such as survival (a measure of death), are not reliable predictors due to infrequency of occurrence or unethical practices, such as manipulating the survival of individuals. By using a biomarker, researchers can reduce harm and risk to a subject while still producing clinically relevant conclusions. [1]

Biomarkers play a large role in the drug development process; they bridge the gap between the measurable biological outcomes and clinical outcomes. However, biomarkers are limited in how well they can reproduce physiological consequences of disease.[1]

On the other hand, antibodies are abundant, stable-in-serum biomarkers that can predict a variety of pathologies. Many comparable biomarkers have a tendency to run dilute, and detection can prove difficult, particularly over extended periods of time. [2]

Natural antibodies are the body’s biomarkers, and help the immune system monitor the body. Antibodies in the body can serve as biomarkers that indicate the functional changes of the body system that they are functioning in. [3] Antibodies are the body’s way of detecting a change in the expression of a protein, which in turn can indicate the progression of a disease or infection. Harnessing the natural properties of antibodies as biomarkers, or clinical indicators, could prove to be successful on a larger scale in the future. The ability for antibodies to remain stable in blood serum over extended periods of time could change the way clinical trials are conducted.

[1] Strimbu, K., & Tavel, J. A. (2010). What are Biomarkers? Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS 5(6), 463–466.

[2] Sabatino, A. D., Biagi, F., Lenzi, M., Frulloni, L., Lenti, M. V., Giuffrida, P., & Corazza, G. R. (2017). Clinical usefulness of serum antibodies as biomarkers of gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Digestive and Liver Disease,49(9), 947-956. doi:10.1016/j.dld.2017.06.010

[3] Xu, X., Ng, S. M., Hassouna, E., Warrington, A., Oh, S. H., & Rodriguez, M. (2015). Human-derived natural antibodies: biomarkers and potential therapeutics. Future Neurol, 10(1), 25-39. doi:10.2217/fnl.14.62