Proteomics: The Study of Proteins Enabling Personalized Medication
Proteomics is an advanced tool used by life sciences researchers for various purposes. What is proteomics? What are its applications? How is it changing the healthcare sector? Find out the answers to these questions in the following writeup.
What is proteomics?
Proteomics is the study of proteins. Specifically, proteomics refers to the study of the proteome of an organism or a biological system, i.e. the study of the entire set of proteins produced in an organism or in an biological system, such as an organ. The field of proteomics came to life in the 1970s and has been subsequently strengthened by advances in the field of genomics, specifically genome studies such as the Human Genome Project. The name proteomics is an amalgamation of the words “protein” and “genomics” and owes itself to a doctoral candidate at Sydney’s Macquarie University. The name of the field originated in 1994.
What are the primary methods of studying proteins?
Using antibodies for protein detection is the majorly applied tool in proteomics studies. Antibody-based processes have an advantage in the fact that most proteins have a unique antibody and can thus be identified on the basis of their antibody. ELISA, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, has been a major procedure for proteomics studies, as it allows for easy detection and quantitative measurement of proteins in a sample. The Western blot test is also used, especially when an individual protein needs to be identified. Protein modifications can also be studied through antibody tests, as antibodies are specific to the modification.
While antibody-based protein tests are the norm in the field of proteomics, antibody-free protein detection also holds an important place. These are necessary as some proteins may not have a corresponding antibody. Antibody-free tests also provide a higher throughput than antibody-based tests and can determine the sequence of a protein or a peptide.
In terms of mass spectrometry, there are two major ways of profiling proteins. One uses high-resolution two-dimensional electrophoresis to separate proteins from samples. The other uses stable isotope tags to separate proteins from complex mixtures. The former is the more widely used variant.
What are the practical applications of proteomics?
The major application of the field of proteomics is in drug discovery and, particularly, in the development of personalized medication. As the proteome of an individual is identified, specific drugs can be formulated to suit the particular cocktail of proteins residing in the individual. This allows for the development of powerful individualized medications. The growing demand for personalized medication is likely to remain a powerful driver for the proteomics field. Personalized medication allows for risk-free medication, as the individual’s tolerances to specific drugs and substances are taken into account in the production of the drug. Personalized medication is also more effective than generic medication, as the most effective formulation of drugs can be chosen based on the tendency of the individual to react to specific substances.
Where is the proteomics field flourishing?
North America is the major regional segment for the proteomics field, as a high number of advanced biomedical research projects are undertaken in the region’s highly developed economies. The growing awareness about personalized medication in North America has also driven the demand for technologies that support the development of personalized medicine. This is likely to be a major driver for the proteomics field in North America.
Proteomics is a novel way of looking at drug development and, empowered by advances in genomic studies, is likely to last the distance in the healthcare industry in the coming years.