28 May 2014

Proteins: The Key for all Diseases?

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The human DNA has been decoded already in the Human Genome Project. Now scientists from Martinsried near Munich are taking the next step to decode all proteins of a human being.

The impact if this challenge could be huge, as this set of data could lead to new therapies and diagnosing tools for virtually all diseases, including diabetes or cancer. 

Proteins are everywhere. They form our hair, our muscles and regulate our digestive system. Proteins are key to life, but when they change, they are also key to diseases.

Scientists of the European research project PROSPECTS now want to look in detail at the 20.000 proteins that regulate our body and study their specific functions. Matthias Mann, coordinator and biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry believes this approach could lead to a new quality of diagnosis for many diseases including cancer or diabetes. “The advantage of looking at the protein level is that it will change when there is a disease. The genes remain exactly the same - what changes are the proteins. So it makes more sense to look in detail at the proteins”, he says.

This means the future of medicine could be based on this study: by looking at the proteins of each of their patients, doctors should be able to offer a better and faster diagnosis and also avoid unnecessary or ineffective therapies. In the case of breast cancer, for example, this could mean that 50% of women will not receive any more chemotherapy after their operation, as their proteins will indicate that their type of cancer will not have spread. 

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