The Handbook of Biomarkers by Kewal Jain is best described as comprehensive, a tome that encompasses the author's experience and knowledge of biomarkers from the very general to the minutely specific. Jain, founder of Jain PharmaBiotech in Basel, Switzerland, says the wealth of biomarkers being discovered could make it difficult to sort them out and determine which are important for different kinds of research. By compiling all the information in one place, Jain hopes to provide one complete source, leveraging all the literature on biomarkers and his own experience in molecular diagnostics. "There [has been] so much activity in this field in the past few years with discovery of thousands of biomarkers using new genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic technologies that it is difficult for a physician or scientist to keep up," Jain says.
The book — meant to appeal to a large audience of academics, grad students, clinicians, and industry professionals — begins perhaps a little too generally, explaining the definition and historical aspects of biomarkers that most who'll read it are likely to already know. But within 10 pages — after he's done talking about DNA biomarkers, genes, and SNPs — Jain starts to get specific, delving into metabolomics, stem cell biomarkers, and autoantibodies as biomarkers for autoimmune disease. For the researcher who doesn't work with biomarkers day in and day out, this serves as a good introduction to the following chapters, which get into the nitty-gritty of cutting-edge biomarker technology and discovery.
Jain discusses technologies used to discover biomarkers, including chapters dedicated to molecular diagnostic technologies; biomarkers used in drug discovery and development; the role biomarkers play in health care, including the diagnosis of diseases from tuberculosis to heat stroke; biomarkers of cancer; biomarkers of disorders of the nervous system; biomarkers of cardiovascular disease; the role of biomarkers in personalized medicine (a subject close to Jain's heart); and the regulatory issues surrounding biomarkers.
It would be almost impossible not to find something of interest in the book — and it would be almost impossible to comprehensively study all these categories of biomarkers at once, so the handbook could serve as a nice complement to any researcher's expertise.
"There was no comprehensive systematic treatise on this subject as a reference," Jain says. "This book was written to evaluate, organize, and present this information in a way that is easy to grasp and use." The author certainly accomplished his objective.