Proteomics research is undergoing excessive growth. Nearly every major biotech and pharmaceuticals firm has implemented a proteomics program. Functional proteomics, the study of protein function and identification of protein interactions, is playing a major role in drug discovery, biomarkers, molecular diagnostics, and antibody therapies. A primary goal of biomedical research is discovering how cells respond to genetic instructions by creating thousands of protein variations and observing their reactions.

Frost & Sullivan ( finds that the study Functional Proteomics provides market drivers, technical challenges, and emerging enabling technologies in this space. It also describes a variety of results obtained using these technologies.

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"Functional proteomics is developing at a rapid pace to address a critical need in the discovery of drug targets, with the development of a single drug costing an average of $500 million, and only 30 percent of approved drugs recovering these costs," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Katherine Austin. "To address this need, pharmaceuticals companies need to find out methods to collect large amounts of data to dissect the complex, disease-causing interactions between proteins within the cell, and between proteins in the extra-cellular environment."

Functional proteomic technologies enable identification of functions for uncharacterized human proteins, the discovery of other proteins with which they interact, and an understanding of their involvement in important disease pathways. Understanding cell-signaling pathways and the manner in which cells communicate will provide greater understanding of disease mechanisms, revealing potential drug targets that are more likely to succeed. After the development of drugs, pathway knowledge is critical in understanding the downstream effects of drug treatment. Enhanced knowledge of pathways will reduce side affects.

Unfortunately, proteins are far more complicated than DNA. Technical problems have plagued functional proteomic R&D on every front. Problems associated with functional proteomic technologies, such as protein arrays are also numerous.

"The development of various proteomic kits and targeted solutions is fraught with pitfalls, many of which deal with the vast range of chemical and physical properties of different proteins," explains Austin. "Some of these include the complexity of the protein-interaction map, a lack of standardization, which makes it difficult to compare or validate results from different laboratories, and a lack of protein-specific capture agents such as antibodies."

Before accepting functional proteomics as a standard, high throughput approach, technology developers need to address a number of challenges. There is a need for new tools and research strategies on all fronts, for protein expression, purification, screening, and measuring protein interactions. In addition, assay sensitivity– the ability to detect low-abundance proteins–need to be more, by following standard techniques that provide reliable and acceptable results for pharmaceuticals applications.

Functional Proteomics is part of the Technical Insights, Healthcare, and examines the following applications: drug discovery, biomarkers, molecular diagnostics and antibody therapies, enabling technologies: spectometry, microarrays, electrophoresis, immunohistochemistry, yeast and viral expression and identification, affinity chromatography, and immunohistochemistry. Interviews are available to the press.

Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and research services.

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