Issue #132
February 2023
Proteomics will revolutionise personalised treatment

Professor Edouard Nice, who was speaking at the RCPA’s Pathology Update 2023 conference in Melbourne, says proteomics is a game-changer in precision and personalised medicine, and will accelerate progress over the next five years. A new comprehensive ‘omics toolbox’ could have significant impact on patients with cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and diabetes.

“Discovery-based findings in proteomics, which involves the large-scale study of proteins, their structure and physiological role or functions, are now being translated to clinical application and we are already beginning to see a change in how we treat patients. The whole concept is moving towards getting an optimised treatment for individual patients by finding characteristics, which help us to identify particular disease problems and the various drugs that we can use to treat them.

“The field is advancing rapidly and Australia is well positioned to be a major player in what is going on at the moment. Technology is driving the rate at which we are able to move forward and improve patient treatment; we have already moved into using personalised medicine and this will continue to expand. Within the next five years we will have made some significant improvements to both the diagnosis and treatment of disease, which will directly benefit patients and improve outcomes,” said Professor Nice.

Proteomics differs from genomics. Genomics studies the entire set of genes in the genome of a cell, whilst proteomics looks at the entire set of proteins actually produced by the cell.

“Proteins fit in alongside genes to give us the information we need to understand how patients can benefit from various treatments, and how we can design new treatments. Proteins are the driver of biological function, and we need to understand how they do that. Yes, proteins are there, but what are they doing? And how can that help us develop new drugs and find new biomarkers?” said Professor Nice.

Founded in 2001, the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO) is an international scientific organisation representing and promoting proteomics through international cooperation and collaborations by fostering the development of new technologies, techniques and training.

“Through the HUPO, a comprehensive omics toolbox has been developed which has allowed rapid in-depth analysis of the human proteome. This analysis is advancing our understanding of the biology of both health and disease. We are at a point where we have good sound validation of around 92-93% of all the proteins in the proteome, so we know they exist, but we need to understand more.

“Emerging omics technologies will allow us to drill even deeper. The deeper into the proteome we go, the more information we will have to enable us to understand disease-related pathways, which leads to discovering new drugs and biomarkers. It will enable us to move on from knowing the proteins are there, to working out what is their function and how is it controlled. This will be the aim of the recently announced HUPO Grand Project.

“Pathology in particular will play a really important role in supporting the delivery of this project which is driven by biomarker discovery and will give us clinically useful diagnostic assays for the ongoing development of precision medicine,” said Professor Nice.



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