How to Uncover the Secrets of Proteins -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

To elucidate cellular mechanisms that lead to diseases such as cancer is a big challenge of biomedicine. Scientists of the Division of Molecular Genome Analysis headed by Professor Annemarie Poustka, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), have tackled this complex task and developed a unique guide which enables researchers to identify the function of proteins swiftly and efficiently.

Dr. Stefan Wiemann and his colleagues work on a "Functional Pipeline”. In this pipeline, the scientists have compiled a host of data from genome research and show examples of how genes and their proteins work in cellular systems. This comprehensive collection of numerous data leads to concrete information such as whether a protein is involved in the cell cycle and, thus, may also be associated with cancer.

The project was funded by the Research Ministry (BMBF) within the framework of the National Genome Research Network. Deciphering the human genome was only the beginning. Researchers are now faced with the task of identifying the existing genes and their RNA copies which serve as blueprints for producing proteins. In a next step they need to find out where these proteins work and analyse their actions and interactions with other cellular components.

Understanding these complex biological processes will eventually make it possible to distinguish healthy from sick organisms. Therefore, these findings are a prerequisite for developing novel diagnostic and prognostic approaches and new treatments.

Wiemann and colleagues are using methods of bioinformatics and genomic databases to compile and evaluate research results and to link these with a variety of data obtained by high-throughput methods.

In combination with results from experimental research, such as about the localization of proteins within the cell or activation patterns of genes, called expression profiles, this yields a comprehensive collection of currently available information.; Source: German Cancer Research Center