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Techniques & Tools Mass Spectrometry, Gas Chromatography, Liquid Chromatography

The Multidimensional Future of Proteomics

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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About the Authors

John Yates

John Yates is Ernest W. Hahn Professor of Chemical Physiology and Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology at The Scripps Research Institute, LaJolla, California, USA. He was recently named Editor of the Journal of Proteome Research. 

Shabaz Mohammed

Shabaz Mohammed carried out his PhD in mass spectrometry at the University of Manchester (UK) under the supervision of Simon Gaskell. He then moved to Denmark to work with Ole Jensen in the field of proteomics and in particular, the development of techniques for improving protein information.  He continued to work in this field when he moved to The Netherlands and the lab of Albert Heck. In 2008, he became a group leader and assistant professor in Utrecht and continued to work with Heck at the Netherlands Proteomics Centre. In 2013, he moved to the University of Oxford where is now an Associate Professor.   

Koen Sandra

Koen Sandra is R&D Director Life Sciences and Metablys, Research Institute for Chromatography, Kortrijk, Belgium.

Andrea Gargano

Andrea Gargano received his MSc in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology from the University of Pavia (Italy) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (CA, USA) in 2009. In his Master thesis he conducted research on the development of organic monolith for the separation of proteins. He moved to the University of Vienna (Austria) for his PhD, where he worked on the synthesis and characterization of stationary phases for liquid chromatography, participating in research in chiral, hydrophilic interaction, affinity, mixed-mode and ion-exchange chromatography for small and biomolecules. After his PhD, he became post-doctorate researcher at the University of Amsterdam, where he specialized in two-dimensional liquid chromatography.  In the summer of 2015, Gargano was awarded a Veni grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and he is currently working on the development of (multi-dimensional) separation strategies for the characterization of intact proteins.


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