Boost for international proteomics research

29 September 2010

The Human Proteome Project (HPP) is a recently established working group of the Canadian-based Human Proteome Organization (HUPO), aiming to co-ordinate international research efforts to fully characterise the 21,000 protein coding genes (the proteome) within the human genome, with a view to understanding ‘biological and molecular function’ and advancing diagnosis and treatment of diseases. This is a very demanding undertaking, since the potential for alternative expression and modification of proteins from each genes means that the actual complement of human proteins is much greater, in the millions.
The Australian arm of the project was launched in Sydney this week as part of the 10th HUPO World Congress (see The Australian), and various centres around the world are also involved, including the UK and US; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle have just announced completion of the first phase of their efforts to map the proteome using mass spectrometry.However, there is generally a significant dearth of funding for the HPP (see Life Scientist report), despite the arguably stronger prospects for prompt development of new diagnostics and therapeutics from the research than, by comparison, from the human genome sequence.

This has been countered by an announcement from the Beijing Proteome Research Center, that the newly named Chinese Human Proteome Project will expand from the current human liver proteomics research base to include analysis of proteins in the blood, brain, lungs, skin and other organs, The Chinese government will also fund  a national laboratory called the Pilot Hub of Encyclopedical proteomIX, or PHOENIX (see Nature news). 

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