“Biomarker” is an abbreviation of “biological marker”. Biomarkers are medical “signs” which can be observed outside a patient and provide objective information about a patient’s health. In our laboratory, we collect a variety of biological samples for biomarker analysis. These include: blood/serum, saliva, urine/fecal samples and wound/skin swabs. Our phlebotomy suite is equipped with a bio-safety cabinet, centrifuge and ultra-low freezer.
Our staff includes trained phlebotomists who can safely collect blood and other tissue samples from patients and process them for testing, storage or off-site shipment. Our samples are typically sent to Lifelabs, Mt. Sinai Research Laboratory Services, or to other collaborating research facilities in Canada and the US for analysis.
The biomarker, or panel of biomarker tests selected will depend on the research study and the sample type. In blood, previous studies have looked at biomarkers of cardiovascular health (C-reactive protein, lipid profiles, etc.), inflammation (variety of interleukin panels such IL-6, IL-9, etc.), bone health (Calcium, Vitamin D) and bone metabolism (Bone Alkaline Phosphatase BALP, Osteocalcin, Sclerostin, etc.).
Previous studies have also looked at DNA in saliva samples and protein and gene expression in wound swabs. Some of the biomarkers we investigate are well characterized, while others are still novel or in development. We often collaborate with other research groups to explore the utility of new biomarkers in evaluating the health of patients with SCI.