A biomarker, or Biological Marker, can be understood as a molecule that is present (or absent) from a particular cellular type. This facilitates the characterization of a cell type, their identification, and eventually their isolation. Cell sorting techniques are based on cellular biomarkers (for example, Fluorescent-activated cell sorting). A biomarker can be used to identify a cell population, make a diagnostic, measure the progress of disease or the effects of treatment.
One example of cellular biomarker is the protein Oct-4 that is found in embryonic stem cells, while the Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a tumoral marker used to follow up cancer treatment, and the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is used for diagnostic.
Kinds of Biomarkers
- Embryonic: Embryonic biomarkers are hugely important to fetuses, as each cells role is decided through the use of biomarkers. Research has been conducted concerning the use of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in regenerative medicine. This is because certain biomarkers within a cell could be altered (most likely in the tertiary stage of their formation), to change the future role of the cell, thereby creating new ones.