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J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2020;6:1. 10.20517/2394-4722.2019.42 © The Author(s) 2020.
Open Access Editorial

Introduction to this Special Issue: “Biomarker Discovery and Precision Medicine”

Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Correspondence Address: Prof. Bingliang Fang, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA. E-mail:

    This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarker Discovery and Precision Medicine
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    Science Editor: Judy S. Crabtree | Copy Editor: Jing-Wen Zhang | Production Editor: Tian Zhang

    © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, for any purpose, even commercially, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

    With advances in genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, blooming data have been available for exploring molecular alternations in cancers. Many of these molecular alternations have been investigated as biomarkers for cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and precision therapies. It is my privilege to introduce this Special Issue of the Journal of Cancer Metastasis and Treatment, which contains four review articles and four original articles that focus on the topic of biomarker discoveries for cancer diagnosis and precision therapy.

    Solid tumors are known to shed their cellular components (proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, glycosaminoglycans, and metabolites) or malignant cells themselves into peripheral blood. Some of these molecules are already used as biomarkers for cancer screenings and follow up tests in clinics[1,2]. The advent of new technologies in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and cell biology analyses has dramatically expanded the scope of circulating tumor biomarkers from traditional tumor-associated antigens to circulating tumor cells, circulating tumor nucleic acids (cell free DNA and miRNA), exosomes, and plasma proteomics. The tests on circulating tumor cells or tumor-specific nucleic acid in blood are also referred to as liquid biopsies[3]. Three review articles in this Special Issue describe recent advances and challenges in liquid biopsy. Lai et al.[4] reviewed the use of membrane lipid-binding ligands in isolating subtypes of exosomes or extracellular vesicles for improvement of discovery and detection of disease-associated biomarkers in peripheral blood. Huang et al.[5] discussed advances in developing new devices, such as microfluidics and nanotechnology, for capturing and molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells. Bookland and Kolmakova[6] reviewed current advances in searching for circulating biomarkers for pediatric brain tumors, including cell-free DNA, non-coding RNA, tumor metabolites, and proteins in body fluids, such as cerebrospinal fluid, blood, and urine. On the other hand, the review article by Farlow et al.[7] discussed applications of biomarkers in design of clinical trials. These reviews and discussions on advances and challenges in biomarker discoveries stimulate new thinking on addressing the challenges encountered in the field of cancer biomarker discoveries and precision therapies.

    The authors of four original articles reported results of their research projects on the discovery of new cancer biomarkers. Vander Borght et al.[8] described the generation and evaluation of monoclonal antibodies specific for exon 18 neural cell adhesion molecule for detecting small cell lung cancer cells. Ossoliński et al.[9] reported their study on mass spectrometry-based metabolomics profiling of prostate cancer. They found over two hundred differentiating metabolites in urine, serum, and interstitial fluid of prostate cancer patients. The study presented by Zaichick et al.[10] showed that contents of several chemical elements were drastically different between thyroid malignant tumors and normal thyroid tissues. Finally, Liu et al.[11] reported the results of using visible resonance Raman spectroscopy for rapid skin cancer diagnosis.

    I hope you enjoy reading the articles in this Special Issue on biomarker discoveries. I also want to thank Dina Li for her assistance in organizing this Special Issue.


    Authors’ contributions

    The author contributed solely to the article.

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    Conflicts of interest

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    © The Author(s) 2020.


    • 1. Smith RA, Andrews KS, Brooks D, Fedewa SA, Manassaram-Baptiste D, et al. Cancer screening in the United States, 2019: A review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and current issues in cancer screening. CA Cancer J Clin 2019;69:184-210.

    • 2. Sturgeon CM, Hoffman BR, Chan DW, Ch’ng SL, Hammond E, et al. National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry Laboratory Medicine Practice Guidelines for use of tumor markers in clinical practice: quality requirements. Clin Chem 2008;54:e1-10.

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    • 3. Cohen JD, Li L, Wang Y, Thoburn C, Afsari B, et al. Detection and localization of surgically resectable cancers with a multi-analyte blood test. Science 2018;359:926-30.

      DOIPubMed PMC
    • 4. Lai RC, Tan KH, Lim SK. Membrane lipid binding molecules for the isolation of bona fide extracellular vesicle types and associated biomarkers in liquid biopsy. J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2019;5:65.

    • 5. Huang QQ, Chen XX, Jiang W, Jin SL, Wang XY, et al. Sensitive and specific detection of circulating tumor cells promotes precision medicine for cancer. J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2019;5:34.

    • 6. Bookland MJ, Kolmakova A. Peripheral biomarkers for pediatric brain tumors: current advancements and future challenges. J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2019;5:33.

    • 7. Farlow JL, Birkeland AC, Swiecicki PL, Brenner JC, Spector ME. Window of opportunity trials in head and neck cancer. J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2019;5:18.

      DOIPubMed PMC
    • 8. Vander Borght A, Duysinx M, Ummelen M, van der Zeijst BAM. Monoclonal antibodies to the exon 18 encoded moiety of NCAM. J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2019;5:57.

    • 9. Ossoliński K, Nizioł J, Arendowski A, Ossolińska A, Ossoliński T, et al. Mass spectrometry-based metabolomic profiling of prostate cancer - a pilot study. J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2019;5:1.

    • 10. Zaichick V, Zaichick S. Levels of chemical element contents in thyroid as potential biomarkers for cancer diagnosis (a preliminary study). J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2018;4:60.

    • 11. Liu CH, Wu B, Sordillo LA, Boydston-White S, Sriramoju V, et al. A pilot study for distinguishing basal cell carcinoma from normal human skin tissues using visible resonance Raman spectroscopy. J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2019;5:4.


    Cite This Article

    OAE Style

    Fang B. Introduction to this Special Issue: “Biomarker Discovery and Precision Medicine”. J Cancer Metastasis Treat 2020;6:1.

    AMA Style

    Fang B. Introduction to this Special Issue: “Biomarker Discovery and Precision Medicine”. Journal of Cancer Metastasis and Treatment. 2020; 6:1.

    Chicago/Turabian Style

    Fang, Bingliang. 2020. "Introduction to this Special Issue: “Biomarker Discovery and Precision Medicine”" Journal of Cancer Metastasis and Treatment. 6: 1.

    ACS Style

    Fang, B. Introduction to this Special Issue: “Biomarker Discovery and Precision Medicine”. J. Cancer Metastasis. Treat. 20206, 1.




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