The Promise of Proteomics: Adarza BioSystems and the Science of the “Current You”

Many people possess at least a passing familiarity with genomics. They’ve heard the word “genome.” They most likely studied DNA in high school. However, the other “-omics” – including proteomics – remain unfamiliar to most. So: What is proteomics, and why should we care?

Consider this analogy: Genomics and DNA are comparable to the blueprint for an office building. The blueprint tells you the location of each window and door. It indicates what kind of foundation the structure has and where you can find closets and bathrooms. But what happens when you go back to this building 50 years down the road and have to figure out things like: Why is there a leak on the 37th floor? Why aren’t the lights working on the 10th floor?

The blueprint can’t answer these questions fully. It does not take into account how the building has changed over time, due to things like storms and upgrades and office-worker wear-and-tear. The same holds true for DNA, which is the “blueprint” of you as a person. Here is where proteomics become important. The things that comprise YOU, right now, are proteins. Every part of the “current you” – your hair, skin, heart, lungs – is protein. You are not just your “DNA blueprint” anymore; instead, your proteins hold the key to everything that has happened to you and everything that you are now.

This is the vital research that Lewis & Clark Ventures portfolio company Adarza BioSystems undertakes each and every day, with the end goal of providing highly personalized diagnoses that can improve health outcomes and even save lives.

How can proteomics help patients?  Let’s continue our analogy further: A plumber might take a glance at a blueprint when fixing a leak in a 50-year-old building, just to get a sense of where the pipes are. However, he will not be able to diagnose the problem (and, most important, find a solution) until he pinpoints the exact location of the leak and identifies the cause. Did a pipe burst? Are the materials corroded? What is the best way to fix the leak to ensure it does not happen again?

The same is true for a person. Proteomics carries great promise for the identification and treatment of disease. For example, by examining the proteins in a cancerous tumor, researchers can tell us why the cancer is there, how rapidly it is spreading, whether chemotherapy is working, and which treatment methods might pose complications for that individual. The promise of this research is enormous, and in just a few years it will move from the research lab to the doctor’s office.

This is Part One in a two-part series on proteomics and Adarza BioSystems. Check back here soon for an exploration of the “human side” of proteomics and how this field of study can revolutionize patient care.