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Expanding proteomic capabilities with Optimers

The genomic revolution brought simple, sensitive and rapid DNA sequencing, creating a step-change in our biological understanding. Next-generation proteomics is now promising to do the same for protein sequencing and biomarker profiling.

Being able to analyze proteins with a similar fidelity and resolution across biological and clinical applications has implications from better understanding the causes of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to pinpointing improved disease biomarkers for earlier diagnosis and more effective cancer treatments.

A key focus for the proteomics industry is the ability to identify and quantify every single protein species in complex biological mixtures. This will require an understanding of:

  • Protein modifications
  • Protein sequences
  • Protein biomarkers
  • Protein networks

Discussions with key experts in the proteomics field suggest that while all platforms will require high sensitivity, high-throughput and digital quantification, a significant obstacle is the ability to accurately detect and quantify new proteomic biomarkers and signatures. The Optimer platform can enable acceleration and expansion of these platforms to improve proteomics and deliver the next revolution.

Illuminating new proteomic biomarkers

Many proteomic companies offer single and multiplex analyses of protein biomarkers for insight into health and disease. Enabling the detection of novel biomarkers is integral to being able to expand proteomic capabilities. For many platforms, a current limitation of biomarker detection is the availability of high-quality antibodies for peptide and protein identification that show the required level of specificity and discrimination between key targets. Generating antibodies with the desired specificity often involves long lead times and can be associated with inconsistent supply chains. These challenges are holding back the field and preventing essential improvements and the translation of proteomic technologies.

The broad target range of the Optimer platform, from post-translational modifications and single amino acid changes in small peptides to cell surface proteins with limited extracellular epitopes, like GPCRs, is yielding new opportunities for analysis.

Optimers in proteomics

  • Identical small peptides +/- PTM were targeted for discrimination between a potential disease-modifying and healthy biomarker
  • Optimers show discrimination between the healthy and disease variant forms

The ability to measure the abundance of novel proteomic biomarkers precisely and sensitively across multiple samples and tissues could overcome the reliance on time and cost-intensive mass spectrometry techniques.  Mass spectrometry has many advantages, including its suitability for hypothesis-free biomarker discovery, since information on the protein content of a sample is not needed prior to analysis. However, mass spectrometry presents one main caveat, which is limited sensitivity in complex samples, especially for body fluids, where protein expression covers a huge dynamic range.

Affinity ligand-based technologies remain the leading solution to address the challenge of low abundance proteins and protein biomarkers, as they enable higher sensitivity for a more complete picture of the proteome. But if antibodies can’t be raised to some of the difficult targets, small peptides or PTMs that we need to detect, how do we enable this new technology with the required sensitivity?

Our Optimer platform has a success rate of 77% in rapidly developing successful tools, with many of these projects having previously failed in antibody discovery campaigns. Additionally, with Optimer development times in weeks rather than months needed for antibodies and highly batch consistent manufacture for Optimers through solid-phase synthesis rather than biologic systems, performance and supply is assured throughout the lifecycle with a faster route to market. If you need to expand your proteomic studies for reliable readings of a larger biomarker repertoire, we have experience in supporting these large-scale projects.

Due to the uptake in genomics, we are now light years ahead in our understanding of health and disease compared to 20 years ago. With the new developments being made in proteomic platforms we could see this industry propel our understanding in a similar way.

To find out how Optimers could enable new developments in your proteomic platform, please get in touch.

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