Gene study achieves medical ‘milestone’

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iol scitech oct 31 genes

Berlin - US and German scientists have created a catalogue of proteins in the human body, a study released on Wednesday showed, marking what they consider a “milestone” in medical science.

Academics from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University and the Technical University of Munich have conducted separate projects mapping more than 90 percent of protein-coding genes in humans.

The former identified a total of 17 300 protein-coding genes while its Munich counterpart mapped a total of 18 000, corresponding to about 84 and 92 percent, respectively, of proteins found in humans.

The research was jointly released on Wednesday in the science journal Nature. Previously, only about half of the proteins found in the human body had been successfully identified, researchers in Munich said.

The research identifies protein markers that can, among other things, predict an individual's resistance or sensitivity to drugs, meaning that doctors will be better able to develop bespoke approaches to treating diseases, including cancer.

“We are opening the door a bit wider for the individualised treatment of patients,” said Bernhard Kuester, head of the German study.

“By knowing the protein profile of a tumour, medicines could be introduced in the future that are more target-oriented.” The genes contain the blueprint for proteins in the body. Until now, the functions of all proteins in the body had not been known.

“By generating a comprehensive human protein dataset, we have made it easier for other researchers to identify the proteins in their experiments,” said Akhilesh Pandey, a professor at Johns Hopkins.

“We believe our data will become the gold standard in the field, especially because they were all generated using uniform methods and analysis and state-of-the-art machines,” he said. - Sapa-dpa

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