An imaging biomarker is a biomarker that can be detected with the help of an imaging technology. Biomarkers are increasingly being applied as a diagnostic tool. These are an objective measure for the level of activities of genes, proteins and other molecular features. According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, biomarker is a biological molecule found in tissue, blood or other body fluids, which mark the presence of a normal or an abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. Therefore, biomarkers are more useful to detect and monitor responses of the body to a disease or condition. Since cancer is associated with alterations in the status and expression of multiple genes, technologies are under development that could provide important insights into the etiology of the cancer and be vital to detect, diagnose, and treat cancer. Biomarkers, help in early detection of cancer, resulting in increased survival rate among cancer patients.
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The global imaging biomarkers market is segmented on the basis of imaging technologies, applications and geography. Imaging technologies include positron emission tomography (PET), ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Personalized medicines, drug discovery and development, molecular diagnostics, drug formulation, disease diagnosis and forensic applications are the major application segments for imaging biomarkers. Determination of disease mechanisms, toxicity profiling, and in target discovery and validation are some of the key drivers propelling the demand for imaging biomarkers.
MRI procedures use magnetic field and are thus safer than other imaging techniques such as CT and PET scan. Multi parametric MRI is emerging as an improved technique and best imaging modality for localizing and staging of various cancers. PET scanners due to their high cost, have their usage limited to large hospitals. These are useful in cancer staging and to determine the preseance of metastasis. It is estimated that approximately 95% of all PET procedures performed are related to cancers and is the normal standard of care in the diagnosis, staging and determining treatment of cancer patients. Technologically advanced imaging modalities such as PET/MR, provide new tools for biomarker imaging by combining morphological and molecular imaging. Present day CT equipment produce 3D images by capturing pictures in a helical (or spiral) way and the most recent equipment have the ability to take more images in a very short time. In certain cases, contrast medium dyes are used during imaging for clear visualization of tissues. Ultrasound imaging has gained popularity along with mammogram for detecting breast cancer, as it is non-invasive, cost effective, and is widely available.
Geographically, the global imaging biomarkers market can be categorized into four major regions namely North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Rest of the World. North America comprising of the U.S. and Canada dominates the global imaging biomarkers market followed by the European countries due to well established healthcare infrastructure in these regions. Emerging economies in the Asia Pacific region are expected to be the fastest growing region in the near future due to rising awareness regarding the imaging biomarkers and continuous improvement in the healthcare infrastructure. Various organizations have been formed in order to assist in biomarkers discovery and their assessment in drug development and response to therapy. These organizations include The Biomarkers Consortium, International Cancer Biomarker Consortium and The Predictive Safety Testing Consortium. Abbott Laboratories, Agilent Technologies Inc., Biocrates Life Sciences AG, Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., Becton, Dickinson and Company, Affymetrix Inc., Danaher Corporation, Qiagen NV, DiagnoCure, Inc., Gen-Probe Inc., F. Hoffmann La Roche Ltd., and Siemens Healthcare.
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