Proteome, a portmanteau of the words protein and genome, is the name given to the complete protein set of a genome. If the DNA (or genome) is the hardware of the cell then the protein is the software.
Proteomics is the detailed study of all the proteins in a cell, tissue or organism. In comparison to genomics – which shows a patient’s potential risk for developing a disease, proteomics looks at the patient’s protein profile during the disease. It allows for the study of proteomes at specific times within a disease processes. This has led to development of processes used to more quickly and effectively diagnose and treat life-threatening diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and a variety of genetic disorders.
In the field of cancer, cataloging, describing and studying genomes has been an epic decades-long undertaking which has resulted in mountains of data. The “Aha!” moment, says Dr. Emanuel Petricoin, in reviewing this massive collection of cellular data, was the conceptualization that all cancer cells are heterogenic at the proteomic level. Everyone’s cancer is unique. This understanding has led researchers to discover “pathways” from proteomes. These pathways are now used as markers that direct healthcare practitioners to a more specific or precise treatment option.
As researchers continuously look for new ways to quickly and accurately diagnose and treat disease, researchers at University of Iowa are perfecting the next big thing, personalized proteomics.
“Proteomics allows us to create a precision molecular diagnosis that’s totally personalized for the patient,” says Vinit Mahajan, M.D., Ph.D., UI clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences.
Understanding the mutations of the cells at the level of the proteome has essentially created the fields of precision diagnostics and precision medicine. Personalized proteomics is an exciting next step in early diagnosis, treatment and eradication of disease.
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