The ability of antibodies to bind their target proteins with some degree of specificity has elevated them to being among the most useful tools in biology and medicine, with a market value of $60 billion.
Biochemistry is enjoying a renaissance under the guise of ‘proteomics’ due to the availability of sequenced genomes, advances in mass spectrometry and associated data analysis. Its application to drug discovery and development has obvious benefits to the multiple aspects of drug development but this is only beginning to be realised. This article explores the emerging technologies of non-gel based methods for protein quantitation and identification together with the trend towards focused studies rather than global approaches to protein expression level analyses.
The study of the human proteome will drive drug discovery in coming years; although how, when, and in what direction are a little uncertain at present. To build understanding of the role of the human protein complement in health, development, and disease, a database more complex than the human genetic sequence is under construction. To face the challenge, new technologies for protein analysis must be developed that are faster and provide more information than current approaches.
Proteomics is the science of understanding protein architectures at a supramolecular level, whereas the realm of understanding the organisation of biological information in its totality belongs to bioinformatics. Somewhat more prosaically, industrial bioinformatics is about data handling and analysis, while industrial proteomics uses knowledge generated by studying the proteins expressed by genomes to generate products.These may be proteins in themselves and the databases which house them at a virtual level, or may involve the use of specific, purified proteins in the development and production of a physical product. Examples of some specific products include therapeutic proteins, drug hits, drug leads and, ultimately, drugs themselves. The purpose of this article is to provide some background for those needing information on the types of discovery programmes proteomics is best placed to assist and to give some pointers to the additional informatics capabilities required to support those programmes of research. In this context we introduce the term ‘proteomatics’ as a means of identifying a commercial application of proteome informatics.
The critical bottleneck of the drug discovery process is developing the right drug for the right target. Today proteins represent more than 90% of druggable targets and will most likely remain the single most important class of molecules targeted by pharmacological agents as more novel targets are identified. However, the current preponderance of potential drug targets and the hype about target validation has led to confusion over how to determine the optimal molecular target for pharmacological intervention. Functional proteomics represents a powerful approach of providing valuable information on target druggability and simultaneous rapid access to relevant therapeutic leads, creating a new paradigm that will accelerate downstream drug development
Molecular profiling is becoming increasingly important as a tool for the discovery and implementation of novel biomarkers for use in drug development. Modern profiling methods permit comprehensive analysis of biological systems that allow, for the first time, non-hypothesis-driven approaches in biological discovery.
The genomics community has made great strides in our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer and these advances are slowly beginning to change the way we diagnose and treat patients. But genomic studies alone cannot capture the complete view of disease processes - a more comprehensive approach is needed.