A medical microbiologist’s perspective on the current-day proteomics

Microorganisms, the tiny living creatures, that dwell in every niche, occupying an area greater than us behemoths, are highly valuable. An appreciable proportion of our body weight results from our direct association with them. Their mere presence is capable of preventing a number of diseases and an alteration in their proportions may cause an illness.

However, some of these microbes are also opportunists that themselves pose disease threats when our health is compromised. Disease-causing microorganisms are referred to as pathogens and are present everywhere in our surroundings. Their notorious pathogenic mechanisms require us, humans, to interact with them cautiously.

These pathogenic organisms have evolved over time with us and will continue to do so. Every time we develop a drug to hamper their disease-causing ability, they evolve and acquire the capability to evade the drug actions. Therefore, in the present day, clinical microbiology plays a pivotal role in the management of infectious diseases.

Zooming into the molecular level

The more microbiologists study an organism, the more intrigued it has them. Since the advent of this field of study, approaches have constantly varied; every approach giving a better resolution of the existing picture. In olden times, diseases were characterized by their symptoms and not their etiology. When humans gained the knowledge of the presence of microscopic etiologies, their study began to progress gradually.

Over the past decade or so, organisms were identified and studied with a genetic approach. Their genes were isolated, the entire genome was profiled and extensively studied for their disease-causing abilities. But this only measures the capability of the organism giving no idea about its actual response to various stimuli. What the field thus remained at the dearth of was the study of the actual action molecules.

This was made possible with the introduction of proteomics. Today, proteomics and molecular medicine serve to study the pathogenesis of the organisms more effectively.

Proteomics and the study of infectious diseases

Proteomics is the pervasive study of proteins, the functional molecules for most cellular functions. The applications of this study thus provide major opportunities to elucidate disease mechanisms. Having an accurate idea of the participation and role of various action molecules in a disease progression will allow us to identify specific targets for the drugs we develop. Many of them can also be noted as diagnostic markers or biologic parameters to determine the occurrence of a disease.

This approach has been extensively employed for the study of diseases like hepatitis through serum analysis, lower respiratory tract infections and even malaria.

Although data obtained from a proteomic study is crucial, researchers encounter some hurdles in adopting it as an independent study method.

Bottlenecks in the field of proteomics

Every living organism contains cells with a nucleus at the core. These nuclei contain the organism’s genetic material that codes for the various functional cellular components. Some genes are capable of coding for more than one product too. This means that the study of these products is much vaster than studying the genome itself.

The production of proteins, that are also coded for by the genes, is thus more challenging than a genetic study. Their production depends on specific stimuli encountered by the cell. Plus, many of them also have isoforms. Two proteins are referred to as isoforms when they are highly similar in molecular structure but differ in functions. Not only does this make a complete proteome profiling dreadful, data management becomes more difficult too. With advancements in scientific concepts, there has to be a simultaneous sophistication of data curation methods.

This concern is faced by scientists all over the globe and they are hence seeking local and international conference opportunities. Conference alerts 2018 are being looked upon to resolve such issues with many people coming together and taking up professional conversations.

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