Biomarkers are needed to screen multiple stages in the clinical pathway of Barrett's oesophagus patients; from disease diagnosis to risk stratification and predicting response to therapy. Routes to the identification of biomarkers have been recognized by known molecular features of the disease and more recently through transcriptomic, methylation and proteomic screening approaches. The majority of Barrett's oesophagus patients remain undiagnosed in the general population. In order to develop a tool to screen for Barrett's oesophagus in the primary care setting, minimally invasive sampling methods coupled with immunocytology-based biomarkers are currently being assessed. Biomarkers may also have utility in surveillance programmes by allowing endoscopic interval to be adjusted according to individual neoplastic risk. Many individual biomarkers have been proposed in this regard, but have frequently been assessed in studies of limited power, or have lacked sufficient sensitivity or specificity when assessed in wider population-based studies. Biomarker panels may provide a route forward. In this regard, a panel of methylation markers has shown promise in a multicentre, double-blind, validation study. Biomarkers are also being developed to improve detection of high-grade dysplasia and oesophageal adenocarcinoma, utilizing brush cytology combined with FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization), and to assess therapeutic success and risk of complication during photodynamic therapy. Finally, we outline progress in identifying alternative sources of biomarkers for this condition.

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