"Thanks to financial support from universities, the state of Michigan, and now NCRR, every scientist in Michigan will have access to a state-of-the-art research facility and expert support services that would be out of reach for any single university or even most corporations," says Andrews, a professor of biological chemistry in the U-M Medical School. "It shows what universities and government can do, if they work together."
Proteomics is an important emerging field in the life sciences. While geneticists study the genes in a specific cell or organism, proteomics researchers focus on proteins millions of complex molecules that do the work of living cells. Unlike genes, which are stored permanently on DNA in the cell's nucleus, proteins are ephemeral. They come and they go created or destroyed instantly by cells in response to genetic instructions or biochemical signals from other cells or proteins. To understand the function of a gene, scientists must identify the proteins produced when that specific gene is active and figure out what those proteins do in the cell.
"Proteomics is important to researchers in many specialties, but especially in biomedical research," Andrews says. "Proteins can be used as biomarkers to detect the earliest stages of diseases like cancer or diabetes. Genetic differences between people are reflected in the different mix of proteins in their cells. Proteins show how cells respond to pathogens or chemicals, and how cells change as they age. Proteins also serve as traffic cops directing complex biochemical signaling pathways in the body."
Detecting trace amounts of a protein, which may exist in cells only for fractions of a second, requires extremely sensitive and expensive equipment to rapidly separate, analyze and identify all protein components in a cell sample. This generates massive amounts of data, which m
Contact: Sally Pobojewski
University of Michigan Health System