Proteomics and alcoholism research

"Proteomics" refers to the study of proteins that are synthesized by cells, tissues and organs in the body. Recent advances in technology now allow scientists to separate and identify these proteins. According to symposium proceedings published in the February issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, proteomics has important implications for alcoholism research in terms of identifying biomarkers of alcohol intake, understanding alcohol's effects, particularly on the liver, and developing drugs to treat alcoholism.

"The study of proteins involved in alcoholism has taken two different approaches," said Chinnaswamy Kasinathan, associate professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and symposium organizer. "One approach is to select a protein for study because of its role in a pathway believed to involve alcoholism. Since alcoholism is a behavioral disorder, many of the candidate proteins selected for study are involved in neurochemical pathways. An alternate proteomic approach is to study as many proteins as can be separated by a technique such as 2D gel electrophoresis and identified through mass spectrometry. This approach does not select any candidate protein in advance, rather, this approach incorporates and examines the entire proteosome of the body."

The symposium took place at the June 2003 Research Society on Alcoholism meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Some of the key points were:

  • Research designed to identify a urinary biomarker for alcohol intake has found the presence of two groups of proteins in the urine of alcohol-treated rats but not in the urine of control animals.

    "The ultimate goal of this research is to apply the animal findings to the development of good urinary biomarkers in humans as a measure of alcohol intake," said Kasinathan.

    "This would have important applications for many alcoholism treatment facilities," he added. "For example, there are a

  • 15-Feb-2004

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