Proteomics and Other "Omics"
Tremendous attention has been focused on the sequencing of the human genome, often called the script of life. This script provides instructions to many important cellular actors, the majority of which are proteins. In the post-genome era the focus is principally on these molecular actors and their complex interplay. Like actors, biomolecules are part of guilds: Rna is part of the RNome, proteins are part of the proteome, etc.
Canada Research Chair Dr. Daniel Figeys is working on the development of technology to map changes in the human proteome. Why is he focusing on the proteome? Because changes in the proteome are often associated with diseases. For example, an increase or decrease in the amounts of particular proteins in cells can cause debilitating effects which, in turn, can manifest themselves as disease symptoms. As well, diseases can cause chemical changes in proteins that make them work differently. The challenge is to develop technologies that will allow the identification and monitoring of the numerous changes in a proteome.
Dr. Figeys and his group are developing microfluidic technologies to measure the level of proteins in minute amounts of biological samples. As well, his group is developing high-throughput mapping technology to detect various kinds of proteins modifications such as protein phosphorylation.
Dr. Figeys is also working on the application of proteomics with other `omics' approaches to study human diseases - such as colorectal cancer - in a systematic manner.
The development of proteomic technologies and their application in conjunction with other `omics' technologies is the nucleus of a paradigm shift on how to approach the challenge of understanding human diseases at a molecular level. As our knowledge grows, this understanding is leading to new insights into how different diseases might be prevented, diagnosed, and treated.