Babraham heads new European proteomics project
The Babraham Institute is the co-ordinating partner for a new €1.8m European research infrastructure, ‘ProteomeBinders’, which aims to understand how the human genome functions by studying its proteins. The project, funded through the European Commission’s 6th Framework Programme, sets the stage for an open-access resource of binding molecules directed against the entire human proteome, the full set of over 100,000 proteins specified by the human genome.
Established with initial funding of €1.8 M over 4 years, ‘ProteomeBinders’ is co-ordinated by Dr Mike Taussig, Head of the Technology Research Group at the Babraham Institute, and brings together 26 European partners from 12 countries, and two from the US.
A major challenge of the post-genomic era is to understand how the information encoded within the genome, and expressed as the proteome, choreographs the biological organisation of cells, tissues and organisms. “This requires a comprehensive, standardised collection of specific protein-binding molecules. ‘ProteomeBinders’ aims to provide the tools required to detect and characterise all the relevant human proteins in tissues and fluids in health and disease,” said Dr Taussig.
Currently, antibodies are the most widely used protein-binders, but novel binder types based on alternative protein scaffolds, nucleic acids, peptides and chemical entities each have significant advantages and will be evaluated through this collaboration.
Currently there is no pan-European platform for the systematic development and quality control for these essential reagents. The ‘ProteomeBinders’ consortium will coordinate a new European resource, by integrating existing infrastructures, reviewing technologies and high-throughput production methods, standardising tools and applications, and establishing a database.
As one of the largest genome-scale projects in Europe, aiming ultimately to produce and collect hundreds of thousands of specific binders, this resource brings benefits to basic and applied research. The resource will impact on healthcare, diagnostics, target discovery for drug intervention and therapeutics, and will consequently deliver advantages to the research, medical and biotechnology communities.
The Babraham Institute, funded by the BBSRC, is focused on understanding the biological events that underlie the normal functions of cells and on how their failure or abnormality may lead to disease. Its scientists are striving to find cures for conditions where there is currently no treatment or where the existing treatment is not fully effective or causes serious side effects.
The latest technologies are being used to study the basis of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's, foetal abnormality and cancer. The commercialisation of the Institute’s research is managed by its trading subsidiary, Babraham Bioscience Technologies.