Researchers in Sweden are compiling a remarkable 'atlas' that pinpoints the location of thousands of individual proteins in the body's tissues and cells which will give scientists important insights into the function of different proteins and how changes in the distribution of proteins could be reflected in diseases such as cancer.
Professor Mathias Uhlén of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, who is leading the project, said, "We are trying to map the building blocks of life."
The project is hugely ambitious, relying on the selective identification and mapping of thousands of proteins, many of whose function is not yet known, and has required the development of a massive infrastructure to enable the proteins to be identified in a realistic period of time.
Uhlén was describing the human protein atlas at the European Science Foundation's 3rd Functional Genomics Conference in Innsbruck, Austria, on 1-4 October. Functional genomics describes the way in which genes and their products, proteins, interact together in complex networks in living cells. If these interactions are abnormal, diseases can result. The Innsbruck meeting brought together more than 450 scientists from across Europe to discuss recent advances in the role of functional genomics in disease.
The protein atlas team first uses the human genome - the sequence of all the 20000 or so genes in human cells - to encode individual proteins. They then develop 'antibodies' - protein molecules that recognise specific targets - against each of these proteins. The antibody that recognises a given protein is then labelled with a marker to render it visible under a microscope and is exposed to samples of different tissues and cells. The antibody binds to the proteins and in this way the location of the protein can be detected.
"To do this systematically requires a lot of automation and robotics," Uhlén said. "We have six software engineers writing codes just to keep track on the samples. The project is generating 400 gigabytes of data every day." There is a 100-strong team working on the project, with a site due to be set up soon in India, and with antibody-producing sites in Korea and China.
"To get an idea of how far we have come, in our first year we produced on antibody," said Uhlén. "This year we are hoping we can make 3000." The programme was launched in 2003, and with sufficient funding the first full version of the atlas could be available by 2014, Uhlén believes.
The team has so far mapped the location of around 5000 proteins in human cells and tissues. The researchers are also investigating whether certain common cancers - colon, prostate, lung and breast - have different protein profiles to normal tissue. In this way new 'biomarkers' could be identified - molecules which indicate that a tissue or cell is in a diseased state, which could alert doctors to the early stages of a disease.
Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses
24.04.2017 | Indiana University
Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years
24.04.2017 | University of Oxford
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences