HUPO scientists tackle human blood plasma proteome

SEATTLE - Although the Human Genome Project made a remarkable contribution to scientific knowledge and biomedical research, it was merely the preamble to proteomics, according to Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D.

"If we really want to understand what genes are doing in cells, we have to focus on proteins - the effector molecules of the cell," says Omenn, a professor of internal medicine and human genetics in the University of Michigan Medical School and School of Public Health.

Omenn directs the Human Plasma Proteome Project (PPP) - one of several initiatives organized by the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO). Established in 2001, HUPO is an international collaboration of academic, government and corporate scientists working in the field of proteomics.

At this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Omenn will present an update on the Plasma Proteome Project, discuss the challenges of comparing data among laboratories, and provide examples of how scientists are analyzing initial protein data sets from reference specimens developed specifically for the project.

"This is a work in progress," Omenn says. "Nothing like this has ever been attempted in proteomics before. The human proteome contains hundreds of thousands of proteins, which are constantly changing, so we are tracking a moving target. The proteome's complexity goes to the heart of why proteins are so important, because they are responsive to and mediate changes associated with health and disease."

HUPO selected the plasma proteome as a major initiative, because blood is the most accessible human tissue, making it feasible to obtain samples and informed consent from volunteers for research and diagnostic use. In addition, specimen banks containing stored samples of human serum and plasma are available. Since blood bathes all cells and organs in the human body, it contains potential protein biomarkers, which indicate changes associated wit

Contact: Sally Pobojewski
University of Michigan Health System

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