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Companies to Analyze 40,000 Protein Samples

DNAmolcule model

(Skeeze, Pixabay)

13 Dec. 2018. A partnership between genomic analysis company deCode Genetics and proteomics enterprise SomaLogic Inc. plans to analyze protein activity in 40,000 human samples. Results of the analysis, which the companies call the largest protein study ever, are expected to be used by deCode Genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland and SomaLogic in Boulder, Colorado to advance their respective drug discovery and analytical technologies.

SomaLogic says it’s collecting the world’s largest database of protein measurements. The company says its technology platform, known as SomaScan, provides a snapshot of protein activity in the body in real time. SomaScan, according to the company, measures thousands of proteins simultaneously, but also tracks the activity of proteins in both high and low abundance in the body.

SomaLogic says its analytical engine measures reactions of synthetic single-strand DNA nucleic acids called aptamers that bind to proteins in unique and characteristic ways. As a result, says the company, its SomaScan technology can analyze complex human samples, such as blood, quickly, with the aptamer reactions indicating the presence and activity of proteins detected. The company also uses machine learning and advanced bioinformatics tools as part of its analysis of proteins.

deCode Genetics collects data from 160,000 volunteers in Iceland, more than half the country’s adult population. The company also assembles a genealogical database for the entire country going back 1,000 years to Iceland’s founding as an independent nation. These extensive data sets, combined with the high quality of universal health care in Iceland, says deCode, makes it possible to study most common diseases on a large scale, minimizing the selection bias that can occur in larger and more diverse populations.

The company, a subsidiary of American biopharmaceutical company Amgen, analyzes its databases to identify risk factors between genetic variations and common diseases. For example, as reported by Science & Enterprise in May 2016, a review by deCode Genetics identified genetic sequencing variations associated with risk factors connecting cholesterol levels to heart disease. The researchers analyzed whole genome sequencing and health records, including blood test results, from nearly 120,000 residents of Iceland. The analysis confirmed 14 sequencing variations already associated with changes in cholesterol levels, but also identified 13 rarely occurring variations in 9 other genes that were previously not known.

In the new project, SomaLogic is expected to analyze 40,000 samples provided by deCode Genetics, with each analysis covering some 5,000 proteins. deCODE Genetics is expected to use the data for discovery and development of of new therapeutics. SomaLogic plans to employ the findings to advance clinical applications of the SomaScan system. Financial aspects of the agreement were not disclosed.

Stephen Williams, chief medical officer at SomaLogic, says in a company statement that the collaboration provides an “opportunity to work with one of the most highly characterized and understood data sets in the world.” Williams adds, “We are undertaking together the largest protein study ever performed, over 200 million individual protein measurements, to gain substantial new knowledge about normal and disease biology across many common and rare conditions.”

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