Use of cancer biomarkers for drug discovery

Any measurable specific molecular alteration of a cancer cell either on a DNA, RNA, or protein level can be referred to as a biomarker. The expression of a distinct gene can enable its identification in a tissue with none of the surrounding cells expressing the specific marker. Proteomics approach has been used to identify novel biomarkers. The ideal marker for cancer would have applications in determining predisposition, early detection, assessment of prognosis, and drug response. It would be an additional advantage if the marker could also serve as a target for drug development as well.

Genetic alterations in tumor cells often lead to the emergence of growth-stimulatory autocrine and paracrine signals, involving overexpression of secreted peptide growth factors, cytokines, and hormones. Increased levels of these soluble proteins could be exploited as markers for cancer diagnosis and management or as points of therapeutic intervention. The combination of annotation/protein sequence analysis, transcript profiling, immuno-histochemistry, and immunoassay is a powerful approach for delineating candidate bio-markers with potential clinical significance (13).

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