The Promise of Proteomics: Making Medicine Truly Personalized

This is Part Two in a two-part series on proteomics and Adarza BioSystems. In Part One, we explored why the field of proteomics matters. Now, we are taking a look at how Adarza BioSystems is making big strides – with encouraging implications for researchers and clinicians alike.

In 2014, proteomics received a boost into the public consciousness, thanks to a cover story in Newsweek. That article, “Getting Cancer Wrong,” explained how researchers and clinicians miss the mark by examining genes but not proteins. Proteomics carries great promise for the identification and treatment of disease. (For example, as discussed in our last post, by taking a look at the proteins in a cancerous tumor, researchers can tell us why the cancer is there, how rapidly it is spreading, and how effectively chemotherapy is working.)

At present, technology challenges are much greater in proteomics than in genomics. We can now sequence the entire human genome in one hour for around a hundred dollars. It is technically impossible to look at all the proteins in one person’s body, no matter how much time we might have.

However: Adarza BioSystems is the tip of the spear in proteomics research. The platform can analyze hundreds or thousands of proteins at once; within the next few years, Adarza will be able to examine all the proteins of relevance to the disease that a scientist wants to understand.  This matters because, given the complexity of diseases, there’s never just one silver bullet. When people say they are looking for a “biomarker,” they are hoping to find one protein that says whether you have (for example) lung or liver cancer. It’s much more complicated. The Adarza platform can look at dozens of proteins that comprise the specific “fingerprint” for an individual’s specific disease state. 

Additionally, Adarza utilizes “multiplex” technology. Where most diagnostic tests look for one particular infection or disease, applied proteomics can uncover multiple issues at once. This could be a tremendous advance not only for diagnosing a disease, but also for evaluating how a patient will react to a prescribed drug. A drug may perform quite well for a certain subset but prove incredibly dangerous for another. For example, Cox-2 inhibitors (e.g., Celebrex, Vioxx) can create a significant risk of heart attack and stroke among some patients. A companion diagnostic test, in this instance, could tell a clinician whether the patient will have an adverse, dangerous reaction. This truly is personalized medicine.