Diagnostic Tests Using Biomarkers

personalized medicine, biobank, biomarkerBesides the need of patient biospecimen for new drug development, those specimens are also necessary for the development of new diagnostics – biomarkers. A biomarker is a biological molecule (DNA, protein, etc.) found in blood or tissues, indicating a certain state of a disease or condition.

For example, when using those markers as diagnostic tool a doctor can then analyze a patient’s genetic background to see how well the patient responds to a certain drug. For instance, with regards to breast cancer, HER2 is one such gene that can play a role in the development of this type of cancer, and a pathology report then tells the doctor whether or not HER2 is playing a role in the cancer.

Why is this important to know? Normally, this gene, HER2, helps control how a healthy breast cell grows, divides, and repairs itself. But in about 25% of breast cancers, the HER2 gene doesn’t work correctly, which then makes breast cells grow and divide in an uncontrolled way. However, there are treatments available specifically for HER2-positive breast cancers, of which the most commonly used one is Herceptin.

Over the course of the past few years, biomarker tests like HER2, the PSA test (Prostate Cancer) and CA-125 (Ovarian Cancer) have had a tremendous impact on the clinical management of patients; in many cases extending, and in some cases, saving lives.


The Bottleneck: Patient Biosamples
For novel biomarker development patients’blood samples that contain immune cells with very specific gene mutations are the biggest bottleneck. In order to develop useful data necessary for biomarker validation, researchers demand large volumes of samples from patient donors.

Throughout the past year of operations, Sanguine has experienced many inquiries for difficult-to-source patient biospecimens.  Since many cancers/autoimmune diseases are the result of an array of genetic mutations, researchers are focused on identifying the common mutations across these groups.


Sascha Hasan is the Chief Scientific Officer at Sanguine Biosciences.  He received his PhD in Pharmacology at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.  His research interests include neuroscience, stem cell research, and cancer research.

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