Biomarkers, or biological markers, are biochemical, molecular, or cellular alterations that manifest as measurable changes in biological media such as tissues, cells, or fluids.
There is immense diagnostic potential for measuring such subtle yet distinct changes in the body. Biomarkers can often capture what is happening in a cell or an organism at a given moment, In other words they are an early warning system for a patient's health.
There are four main types of biomarkers: those with molecular, histologic, radiographic, and physiologic characteristics. Each of these offers diagnostic potential across a wide range of disease areas. Most often, biomarkers are used as in vitro diagnostics in oncology, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, and women's reproductive health. Biomarkers can also reveal pathology in diseases of the central nervous system, respiratory diseases, coagulation, haematology, and diabetes.
Biomarkers have the potential to address significant unmet medical needs, by enabling novel and important physician decision-making along the entire continuum of a patient’s journey. Particularly with time-critical diseases such as heart failure, clinicians can use biomarkers as an integral part of forming a differential diagnosis, by excluding and arranging the appropriate tests and thereby avoiding unnecessary referrals, reducing the burden of disease, and improving diagnostic confidence.
Two biomarkers, Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) and N-terminal pro-B-type Natriuretic Peptide (NT-proBNP) are clinically significant natriuretic peptides made by the heart. In healthy individuals, only small levels of BNP and NT-proBNP are normally found in the bloodstream. When these biomarkers rise to unusual levels, they offer significant diagnostic value when assessing cardiac patients, particularly those with comorbidities such as diabetes and congenital heart disease.
To further raise awareness of these biomarkers amongst Australian physicians, Roche Diagnostics Australia supported the production of educational content featuring Professor Andrew Sindone in Sydney, Australia. In this video, he discusses the role of NT-proBNP in the diagnosis of heart failure in the context of Australian patients.
Professor Sindone is currently the Director of Concord Hospital's Heart Failure Unit and Department of Cardiac Rehabilitation, and also the Head of the Cardiology Department at Ryde Hospital. He is not only a practicing cardiologist with a private practice, but he also has an extensive track record of publishing cardiovascular research, having authored over a hundred publications both locally and internationally.