Defining biomarkersThe term “biomarker” is surprisingly new. The earliest instance is from 1973, when it was used to indicate the presence of material of biological origin.1 It continues to be used in this way in the geological and ecological literature. The earliest clinical use dates from 1977, in a paper on tumour biomarkers used in managing gynaecological malignancies.2 However, earlier references to such terms as “biochemical markers” (1949)3 and “biological markers” (1957)4 show that the concept has a longer pedigree.Other terms that have been used include surrogate markers, surrogate endpoints, surrogate response variables, intermediate endpoints, intermediate markers, biomarker endpoints, and even intermediate marker endpoints. However, in a PubMed search the term “biomarker/s” is found about 15 times more often than all the other terms put together and is the preferred term.The definition of a biomarker in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is “A substance used as an indicator of the…

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