Overview of techniques involved (e.g. 'omics')

1. Biomarker identification

Most biomarkers used in medicines research today are so-called molecular or imaging biomarkers:

  • Molecular biomarkers may include genes, proteins (such as hormones or enzymes) and metabolites. This type of biomarker may require a sample to be taken from the patient. This could for example be blood, saliva or urine. The sample is then analysed, normally in a laboratory or with the use of a test kit. There are many good tests available that can accurately measure molecular biomarkers.
  • Imaging biomarkers can be seen in an image, such as an X-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). They do not require a sample to be taken from the patient.

There are many established biomarkers which are known to have clinical use.

In addition, many new biomarkers are being found and used during the development of new medicines. These can also either be molecular (e.g. 'omics’: genomics, proteomics and metabolomics) or imaging biomarkers. ‘Omics’ are described further in the following sections.