The Multidimensional Future of Proteomics
The proteome is practically infinite in its complexity. If we are ever going to fully unravel its secrets, the best separation tools – and the best know-how – must be combined. Here, four experts discuss the broad importance of proteomics, the potential of multidimensional liquid chromatography, and the challenges inherent in gaining insight beyond the “tip of the proteo-berg.”
John Yates, Shabaz Mohammed, Koen Sandra, Andrea Gargano |
Why does the analysis of proteins remain so important?
Andrea Gargano: The analysis of proteins is essential for understanding the complexity of the communication that takes place in our bodies. Improving tools for protein analysis has important implications for medical science, where we aim to understand the mechanisms of action of bioactive molecules, find (bio)markers for diseases, and characterize new classes of pharmaceuticals (for example, antibodies). Developments in protein analysis promote research at the boundary between biology and chemistry; namely, biochemistry, system biology and bioengineering. Moreover, recent progress in proteomic research has demonstrated that advanced analytical tools for protein analysis open up new possibilities in fields beyond protein science, such as polymer and biopharmaceutical research. In essence, protein analysis is important because it is an analytical challenge with big implications.
Koen Sandra: Proteins have many functions – structural (keratin in hair, collagen in bones, skin), mechanical (myosin/actin in muscle movement), transport (hemoglobin for oxygen transport in blood), defense/immune (antibodies), biochemical reactions (enzymes), hormones (insulin regulated glucose metabolism) – and the list goes on. Amongst many other benefits, analysis of proteins can lead to the discovery of novel drug targets and biomarkers for disease diagnosis, prognosis, and prediction, and is key in the concept of personalized medicine. Proteins themselves are also on the rise as therapeutics; hence, from a biopharma perspective, accurate analysis is essential.
Shabaz Mohammed: If it’s not already clear from Koen and Andrea’s answers, I’ll add that a significant number of diseases, including many types of cancer, can be related to the dysfunction of proteins and their interactions. Thus characterizing their structure, function and interactions is of the utmost importance.
John Yates III: Proteins are the operational agents of cells. They form structures, they transmit signals, they catalyze reactions to form metabolites, they form protein complexes. If you want to know how cells work, you have to study proteins.
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