What is Proteomics?

Helen R. Dickinson, Ph.D. helen.rose@sbcglobal.net

Proteomics, an emerging field of biochemistry, is the study of the complete set of proteins in an organism, tissue or cell and the interactions between these proteins.   The first step in this process is the separation and identification of the thousands proteins in the sample.   Proteomics then focuses on determining the structure, function and interactions of between them.  Comparative studies can lead to useful observations on diseases and to targeted new treatments.

What drives the growth of Proteomics?

In April of 2003 the final human genome sequence was announced. This genome contains the code for protein biosynthesis which biochemists can use to determine the total number and structure of proteins possible in an organism.

  • Determination of the set of proteins in a sample is expensive and time consuming. However, techniques for isolating and characterizing proteins are becoming more automated and thus easier to carry out and less expensive.  The Scientist :: Volume 17, Issue 5, March 10, 2003(free registration required)
  • The vast amount of data generated in these studies is difficult for researchers to analyze and manage. Human Proteomics Initiative.   Computer programs generated by bioinformatics groups are making the analysis of the data generated more manageable. CuraGen Corporation
  • The promise of more appropriate diagnoses and treatments for diseases is resulting in increased funding for these studies both from government and pharmaceutical companies.

 

HOW WILL PROTEOMICS AFFECT HEALTHCARE?

Most large pharmaceutical companies have become involved in this technology.

The Genomics Evolution

Knowledge of how the proteins interact will lead to an improved understanding of the chemistry of diseases; this in turn will drastically improve medical and pharmaceutical science's ability to treat diseases. The technology will allow health are providers to differentiate between diseases that appear to be the same disease, but may be chemically quite different diseases.

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