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Over the past two decades, researchers around the globe have been busily mining human body parts and bodily fluids in search of measurable substances that help to represent human life and to intervene in it in new ways. Blood samples have been scanned in order to find proteins that might help to detect Alzheimer’s Disease with a simple blood test at an early stage of disease progression; genomes of patients suffering from particularly aggressive types of prostate cancer have been mined for SNPs that might be associated with an elevated risk of dying from prostate cancer. And cancers have been genotyped to identify targets for more personalized cancer therapies. This work on “biomarkers” is not altogether new – some biomarkers have been used in health-care practice for decades. However, in the context of the “(gen-)omic revolution,” expectations and financial resources invested in this type of research and in infrastructures that make this research possible have grown substantially. This massive effort to re-order human diseases and develop novel treatment strategies is still very much in the making. At this international conference we nonetheless wish to explore what this research for biomarkers implies for the daily practices of medical research and health care, and what kinds of futures are generated through the emerging biomarker practices.
This conference is organized by the Life Science Governance Research Platform