Beyond the genome — Proteomics


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When the initial map of the human genome was first published in February 2001, it quickly became evident that humans are both more and less complicated than researchers first thought. One of the surprises to come from the draft of the DNA sequence — which was published by scientists from the Human Genome Product, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, and Celera Genomics — was that there are only about 30,000 to 40,000 or so genes, instead of the 80,000 to 140,000 that had been predicted. This is only twice as many as those of a tiny transparent worm.
Although the numbers of genes were fewer than scientists anticipated, they trigger far more complex biological processes than anyone imagined. These complex processes are created by the interactions of proteins, which are produced by genes. Proteins are large, complex molecules made up of smaller subunits called amino acids. It is the proteins that create the millions of chemical reactions in the body, regulating the activities of cells, tissues, and organs. It is estimated that there are as many as 100,000 proteins and a million or more protein variations in the human body.
Humans have on average three times as many kinds of proteins as the fly or worm because of mRNA transcript “alternative splicing” and chemical modifications to the proteins. This process can yield different protein…

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Experts on this topic
Eric Gay
. Industry Analyst, Frost &?Sullivan, San Antonio, Texas; Frost &?Sullivan, with headquarters in New York, is a
consulting company focused on emerging high-technology and industrial markets
Dr. Paul Herrling. Head of Global Research, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland; Novartis is a world leader in healthcare
Dr. Samie Jaffrey, Ph.D. Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Cornell Weill Medical College, New York; Weill Medical College of Cornell University is a clinical and medical research center
William J. Kridel, Jr. Managing Director, Ferghana Partners Ltd. and managing director, Ferghana Partners Inc.; Ferghana Partners is a life-sciences banking house with offices in London and New York
Gregg Morin, Ph.D. VP, Biology, MDS Proteomics Inc., Toronto, Ontario; MDS is a proteomics-based drug discovery company, whose goal is to help its partners increase productivity through rapidly identifying, triaging, and selecting more functionally annotated drug targets in disease
William E. Rich, Ph.D. President and CEO, Ciphergen Biosystems Inc., Fremont, Calif.; Ciphergen’s mission is to improve the understanding of disease processes through the use of advanced protein technology products and services to enable rapid discovery, characterization, and assays
Norrie Russell, Ph.D. President and CEO, Lynx Therapeutics Inc., Hayward, Calif; Lynx Therapeutics develops novel technologies for the discovery of gene expression patterns and genomic variations