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Human Protein Atlas -- Stockholm researchers open the door to unique science map

After more than a decade of research, the world's largest atlas of human proteins has been launched in Stockholm, which scientists say has the potential for new breakthroughs in the pharmaceutical industry. The Human Protein Atlas – managed by researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in the Swedish capital – presents 13 million high resolution images of the human body's building blocks, proteins.

 

The results immediately gained international attention and served as further confirmation of Stockholm's reputation as a top life science and research breeding ground.

 

The Economist wrote that the result will be of "great value to researchers" trying to understand how tissues differ at the molecular level, and will help to explain how cancerous tissues differ from ones that are healthy.

 

"Knowing which proteins are made in each organ in a healthy individual should make it easier for researchers to zero in on the proteins that malfunction in disease, and so better design new drugs and treatments," the New Scientists wrote.

 

Academic journals like Nature and Science has also highlighted the findings.

 

The discovery is of great importance for the pharmaceutical industry, according to the university. Today, most drugs on the market work by altering proteins. That means the mapping of proteins has the potential to be a valuable knowledge resource for future research in medicine and life sciences, and contribute to the development of new drugs and diagnostic tools.

 

"It really feels like an exciting time to launch this knowledge resource for the scientific community with detailed lists of the proteins found in different parts of the human body," said Mathias Uhlén, professor of microbiology, who led the work.

 

"The database is completely free with unlimited access to information," he added.

 

Uhlén told the BBC News website: "If you're interested in the brain or neurological disorders or even degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's obviously it is interesting to know which proteins are elevated in the brain."

 

The project started 11 years ago, and employs some 100 full-time researchers in Sweden, India, South Korea and China. According to the university, it has taken the equivalent of 1,000 man years to create the virtual microscope.

 

Proteins perform a vast array of functions within living organisms, including acting as a catalyst for metabolic reactions, replicating DNA, responding to stimuli, and transporting molecules from one location to anotherThe atlas consists of four subparts: normal tissue, cancer, subcellular and cell lines with each subpart containing images and data based on antibody-based proteomics and transcriptomics.

 

The project is funded by 900 million kronor from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, one of the largest Swedish funders of research.

 

 

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This article was sponsored by Stockholm Business Region.

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Last Updated (Tuesday, 23 December 2014 08:39)

 

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