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BANGALORE: For the first time in the world, a group of Indian scientists working in Bangalore, along with their American counterparts, have mapped more than 17,000 proteins in 30 organs of the human body. Just like the human genome was sequenced around the turn of the millennium, this is an equivalent mapping of the human proteome.
The work, done by scientists of the Institute of Bioinformatics, National Institute of Mental Health and NeuroSciences (Nimhans), Bangalore and Johns Hopkins University, will be published in the renowned journal Nature. Of the 72 people who worked on the project, 46 are Indians.
The discovery is important as it will throw open the doors to find the root of many diseases. “We have the profile of normal proteins. We could get profiles of proteins of a person diagnosed with a particular condition. By comparing, we can know what went wrong. This could be a phenomenal step in medicine,” said Keshava Prasad, scientist at the Institute of Bioinformatics.
It’s estimated there are around 20,500 proteins in the human body. These scientists have profiled around 17,294, which account for around 84% of the total proteins. Apart from this, the team also traced around 2,500 of 3,000 proteins that had been categorised as “missing proteins”.
The scientists also discovered around 200 new proteins and believe there could be more proteins yet to be discovered.
“Indians were not part of the genome project. But, here for the mapping of proteomes, Indians have led the way. Even though some proteins from various parts of the body were profiled by various teams of scientists, a comprehensive mapping of around 84% of human proteins has been done for the first time,” said Dr P Satishchandra, director-vice chancellor, Nimhans.
The team took over two years to complete the project. “It was the perfect combination of technology and know-how. After the genome profiling, proteomes were the most obvious thing to do. Proteome profiling is more difficult because they show varied expression in different organs,” said Harsha Gowda, a scientist at the Institute of Bioinformatics.
The work was done on 30 different human tissues, including brain, liver and blood cells, some of which were also provided by the brain bank at Nimhans. “It differed in fetuses and adults. This could give us an idea on the roles of some of these proteins in development,” said Harsha.
The institutes now plan to do more work on brain proteomes. The work was done on Orbitrap Velos mass spectrometer that cost the institute Rs 5 crore (about $850,000). Another Rs 3.5 crore (about $600,000) was spent on the project. Another world-class instrument, Orbitrap Fusion Mass Spectrometer, worth Rs 7.5 crore (about $1.3 million), is being imported from Germany for work in the area.