Oral Cancer Biomarkers: Is it a Meaningless Game.
There are forever new biomarkers discovered every now and then, claiming for their clinical diagnostic and prognostic potentials. When is it going to end or would it ever ends at all? During the preomics era, it used to be only a handful of protein markers with well-studied in-depth mechanism of
actions. Then came an explosive big data era: genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, epigenomics,
metabolomics, etc., generating huge amount of biomolecular data beyond researchers’ ability to
handle let alone understand their significance in health and disease.1,2 It was akin to a child walking into a candy shop overwhelmed by the choices. Researchers are currently busy trying to make
sense of these data and slowly attempting to translate them into clinical benefits.
Just within the
field of oral cancer, omics data are being generated from all sorts of host samples types, including
saliva, buccal swaps, tissue biopsies, serum, plasma, lymphatic fluids, etc. Within each sample
type, one has choices of investigating Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), Ribonucleic acid (RNA),
protein, metabolites, small molecules, etc. Originating from various cellular compartments such as
nuclei, cytoplasm, membranes, mitochondria, microvesicles
extracellular fluids and etc. Disease and healthy samples are being compared in the
aim to identify key driver ‘cancer biomarkers’ with clinical potentials. As cancer is now perceived
as a disease due to ‘molecular reprogramming hence, biomarker researchers are trying to identify
global molecular events that induce normal cell to reprogram itself into cancer.
Given the complexity and heterogeneity of cancers, predictably, huge numbers of molecular differences exist between normal and cancer samples, and can vary from individual to individual
Dent Open J. 2016; 3(1): e1-e3. doi: 10.17140/DOJ-3-e005