Proteomics: Finding the key ingredients of disease

      International collaboration between McGill, the McGill University
               Health Centre and HUPO cooks up the right recipe

    MONTREAL, May 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The winner of the chilli cook-off,
usually has a key secret ingredient, which is hard to identify. Similarly,
many diseases have crucial proteins, which change the dynamics of cells from
benign to deadly. New findings from an international collaboration, involving
McGill University, the Research Institute of the McGill University Health
Centre (MUHC) and the Human Proteome Organisation (HUPO) just made identifying
these changes one step easier. Their findings published in Nature Methods,
show how to improve protein analysis to tease out relevant potential
disease-causing molecules.
    "Proteomics is the field that singles out the few significant proteins
from the hundreds that may be present in a diagnostic sample," says co-author
and recent new recruit of the Research Institute of the MUHC and of McGill
Unversity, Dr. Tommy Nilsson. "It is important to associate the correct
proteins with the correct condition. This process is incredibly complex. The
aim of our study was to benchmark current analysis techniques worldwide and to
identify potential bottlenecks."

    Putting them to the test

    Twenty-seven labs worldwide were sent a standard sample of proteins to
analyse using their usual techniques. Only seven of the 27 participating labs
were accurate in detecting all the proteins and in the more challenging part
of the study, only one lab succeeded. However, further analysis of their raw
data, showed that all the proteins had been initially detected by all the labs
involved but they had been rejected in later analyses.
    "Our centralized analysis showed us the problems encountered while
conducting this type of testing," says Dr. John Bergeron, senior author from
McGill University and HUPO. "We found that a major contributing factor to
erroneous reporting is at the database level. We expect once databases and
search engines improve, the accuracy of reporting will as well."

    Importance of proteomics

    The goal of proteomics is to characterise all the proteins that are
encoded from human DNA, similar to how all genes were identified as a result
of the Human Genome Project. It is expected that proteomics will accelerate
the identification of cause of many human diseases and that improved diagnosis
and therapy will emerge using proteomic techniques.
    "The new technology described in our paper will potentially enable
clinicians to determine the causes of disease," adds Dr. Bergeron.

    This study was funded through grants the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research, Genome Quebec and McGill University.

    Dr Tommy Nilsson
    Dr Tommy Nilsson is the Director of Proteomics and Systems Medicine at
the Research Institute of the MUHC and Professor of Endocrinology and
metabolism at McGill University.

    Dr John Bergeron
    Dr John Bergeron is the McGill chair of the Anatomy and Cell Biology
Department, and a member of HUPO.

    "HUPO test sample study reveals common problems in mass
spectrometry-based proteomics", was authored by Alexander Bell (McGill
University), Eric Deutsch (Research Institute, MUHC), Catherine Au (McGill
University), Robert Kearney (CODA Genomics), Ron Beavis (BioGrammatics),
Salvatore Sechi (NIDDK (NIH)), Tommy Nilsson (Research Institute, MUHC0, John
Bergeron (McGill University) and the HUPO Test Sample Working Group.
    You can find the press release published by the HUPO on the same topic at
this address:
    <a href=""></a>
<a href="">elease%2017%20May%202009.pdf</a>

    The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC)
is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre.
Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC,
the university health center affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill
University. The institute supports over 600 researchers, nearly 1200 graduate
and post-doctoral students and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to
a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute
operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is
inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that
patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge.
    The Research Institute of the MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de
la recherche en santé du Québec.

For further information:

For further information: Isabelle Kling, Communications Coordinator
(research), MUHC Public Relations and Communications, (514) 843 1560,; Mark Shainblum, Media Relations Officer
(Research), McGill University, (514) 398-2189,

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