Development of individualized cancer therapy often starts with the identification and characterization of reliable biomarkers and therapeutic targets. While some biomarkers can be used as tools for diagnosis and prognosis assessment, others can also be developed as therapeutic targets. An emphasis of cancer research is investigating the biological functions and regulations of cancer biomarkers. This research field facilitates the development of diagnostic and prognostic tools and validates the utilities of therapeutic targets. In this special collection of articles, we focus on cancer biomarkers and present five reviews related to three types of cancer biomarkers to offer a glimpse into this active and diverse research area. First, a universal cancer biomarker is the occurrence of a unique feature in energy metabolism known as the Warburg effect. The article by Liang et al. summarizes the roles of the p53 tumor suppressor gene in regulating energy metabolism, and its implications in cancer metabolism. Second, cancer cells often have intrinsic dis-regulations of DNA repair. It is possible to specifically target a particular repair pathway for cancer therapy with a comprehensive understanding of how each of the DNA repair pathways interfaces with others. This, in turn, will allow a more fruitful understanding of how cancer cells specifically rely on each repair mechanism to maintain growth advantage. Two articles in this collection by Sabtivasi and Xia, and by Zhang discuss these aspects of targeted therapies. Last, a major class of biomarkers refers to a large number of specific genes whose expression patterns and/or structures are altered in cancers. Two articles by Yue et al. and Allaj et al. discuss the potential roles of cytoskeleton protein filamin-A, and the cyclooxygenases and prostanoid receptors of the prostaglandin pathway as biomarkers and therapeutic targets.
Dr Zhiyuan Shen