Biomarkers are used as a means of confirming the presence of certain diseases

Unchangeable and changeable markers highlight processes within the body – and clinicians use them for diagnostic purposes

Biomarkers are quantifiable molecules or even genes that exhibit healthy as well as abnormal or harmful processes in the body. These molecules are detected in the blood or other body fluids and can be measured and analyzed based on objective criteria. The markers for analysis are evaluated according to three criteria: quality, category and quantity. The check involves determining whether there are any biomarkers actually present, how many are detected if there are and how high the exact concentration is. In medicine, biomarkers are also categorized according to their use into:

  • diagnostic biomarkers
  • prognostic biomarkers
  • predictive biomarkers

Diagnostic biomarkers help clinicians to distinguish one disease from similar conditions and more accurately determine its nature. This is important for choosing the right treatment and coordinating the dose of medications or therapeutic measures with the disease.

Prognostic biomarkers provide information on the progress of the disease or the chances of cure. These markers are accordingly always measured in people who already have a disease. They allow clinicians to determine, for example, whether a patient is at high risk of developing a recurrence of the condition. If this is the case, the treatment is set at a significantly higher dose from the start than for patients at low risk.

Predictive biomarkers can indicate how well a patient will respond to the active ingredients in a drug. To do this, target substances in bodily fluid are investigated in the laboratory that must be present for the body to be able to use a medicine’s active ingredient.

Gene diagnostics allow specific predictions to be made – diseases can be fought before they actually develop

Even in healthy people, biomarkers can be determined in the form of genetic predispositions. This allows the likelihood of developing a disease to be estimated. This technique has become known about in the field of medicine through high-profile women who carry the “breast cancer gene” and who have had their breasts removed in order to avoid developing cancer. However even if cancer is already present, genetic markers allow finely-tuned treatment to be offered.

Biomarkers provide information that can be used in radiotherapy

In cancer treatment especially, biomarkers are playing an increasingly important role because they give clinicians information about the nature of the tumor. They make it possible to determine how well the tumor will respond to the radiotherapy and how high the dose has to be to prevent the tumor from recurring. The Radiotherapy Patient System RPS, which allows precise positioning of the patient under the linear accelerator, ensures improved safety during radiotherapy. For more information, write to