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IGF-I biomarker testing in an ethical context

Annabelle Trojan ()
Beatriz H. Aristizabal ()
Lina M. Jay ()
Tatiana Castillo ()
Pedro J. Penagos ()
Ignacio Briceño ()
Jerzy Trojan ()


As we have come to know, there is a connection between cancer biomarkers and genes, along with their susceptibility to a particular disease, all of which have an obvious impact on the clinical practice and development of genetic testing. In any cancer disease, the diagnosis and treatment should be related to the investigation of specific biomarkers (generally antigens and proteins) and their corresponding genes. The study of different antigens such as alpha-fetoprotein, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), insulin-like growth factor II, vascular endothelial growth factor, and epidermal growth factor, as well as their presence in neoplastic cells have demonstrated that IGF-I is an essential target for gene testing and therapeutic purpose. An over-expression of the IGF-I gene in mature tissues is a sign of neoplastic processes, e.g. brain or breast malignancy. A lot of questions have arisen regarding the ethics of gene testing, particularly concerns on the selection of patients for specific growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor I (GHIIGF-I) testing. Evidently, our current society is involved in a process of geneticization – the redefinition of individuals in terms of genetic codes. As such, we should take extreme care when making ethical judgments based on “scientific evidence” derived from genetic testing (typically those involving different biomarkers such as DNA, RNA, chromosomes, and proteins) in relation to genetic abnormalities that could predict current or future diseases. In this situation, the understanding of bioethics is of utmost importance.


cancer, biomarkers, IGF-I, gene testing, bioethics

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