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What Biomarkers Can Say About Health

According to Biophysical Corporation, the 250 biochemical markers measured by its assay provide information about a broad range of the body’s organic systems and their state of function. The biomarkers can be accordingly assigned to different categories; some fit into several groupings simultaneously because those molecules play multiple important roles in sickness and health.

Autoimmune
Illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and scleroderma arise when the immune system turns its arsenal of disease-fighting molecules and cells against the body’s own tissues. The test looks for antibodies that could react with cellular DNA and proteins.

Cancer
Malignancies are highly diverse, but their uncontrolled growth and the tissue disruptions they produce can show up as a shift in the makeup of the blood serum. Relevant biomarkers therefore include cancer-specific antigen proteins, various hormones, white blood cells (such as monocytes, neutrophils and eosinophils) and even certain viruses associated with tumors.

Cardiovascular
Levels of lipoproteins, triglycerides, cholesterol and other compounds—as well as the ratios between them—are risk factors for diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis. Because damaged cardiac muscle cells release creatine kinase, its presence can suggest that a heart attack has occurred.

Cell Signaling
The body’s ability to heal itself and stave off disease depends on the chemical signals called cytokines with which cells communicate. Measuring those cytokines enables physicians to eavesdrop on that conversation for hints about the body’s condition.

Diabetes
Measurements of the blood sugar glucose and of the hormone insulin, which regulates how cells use glucose, are giveaways for diabetes. Other factors can help reveal what type of diabetes is involved.

Endocrine
Hormones released by the endocrine glands (the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, ovaries or testes, and others) regulate organ functions throughout the body. Imbalances in these secretions can be highly indicative of different disorders.

Hematology
Biomarkers in this diverse group reflect abnormalities in the volume of fluid or blood that the body maintains, which can relate to infections, anemia, clotting problems or allergies.

Infectious Disease
The test can look for evidence of bacteria and viruses that cause common diseases such as influenza, hepatitis, tuberculosis, chlamydia, Lyme disease or even gastric ulcers or for signs of parasites that cause leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).

Inflammation
Injuries from bacteria, trauma, toxins and other causes trigger the inflammatory response, which helps the body eliminate disease agents and damaged tissue. Inflammation biomarkers include various immunoglobulins, heat-shock proteins and other molecules.

Nutritional
Blood serum assays for calcium, cholesterol, sodium, vitamin B12, iron, potassium and many other nutrients can detect current or imminent problems resulting from malnutrition.

Organ Function
Abnormal levels of key molecules in the bloodstream can mean that major organ systems are malfunctioning or at risk, especially if pathogenic organisms are also present. Among the biomarkers measured by the test are antibodies against hepatitis viruses (for liver problems), sodium and uric acid (for kidney ailments) and antibodies against Helicobacter pylori (the bacterium that causes gastric ulcers).

Osteoarthritis
Wear and tear on the joints can eventually lead to the painful inflammation of osteoarthritis. Early stages of the problem can be detected by looking for molecules such as C-reactive protein, rheumatoid factor and antibodies against the connective tissue collagen.
—The Editors

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