UK universities to use protein analysis technology to identify disease biomarkers

Universities of Manchester and Dundee will use data from work on cancer and inflammatory diseases

Vast amounts of data generated by screening patients for diseases like cancer and arthritis at The University of Manchester will now be used to improve treatment and drug safety in partnership with the University of Dundee.

The two universities aim to transform medical treatment through protein analysis technology which identifies biomarkers of disease. This allows doctors to target treatments specific to the patient’s condition, and deliver the right treatment at the right time in the right dose.

This ‘precision medicine’ approach improves safety and effectiveness as patients are treated on an individual basis.

The new partnership will use data from work on cancer and inflammatory disease biomarkers led by Professor Tony Whetton which is pioneering the application of the large-scale analysis of proteins using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry instruments (proteomics).

This enables the screening of patients for new protein diagnostic and disease markers and the segmentation of patient groups which can benefit from specific therapies and drug treatments.

This offers exciting new opportunities for improving UK healthcare and to progress this field of research at pace and scale

This approach can also help reduce the risk of patients receiving treatments that cause harmful side-effects. In one example of the potential of this work, Professor Whetton and colleagues recently discovered a new biomarker for risk of ovarian cancer.

This process will generate huge quantities of data and researchers from the University of Dundee will provide specialised software solutions for managing the big data involved. The Dundee team, led by Professor Angus Lamond, has pioneered proteomics research and software developments for the analysis of disease mechanisms.

'Working with Professor Lamond and his team will give us a new ability to manage and analyse the huge amounts of data we will be generating,' said Professor Whetton.

'This offers exciting new opportunities for improving UK healthcare and to progress this field of research at pace and scale.'

The new collaboration combines the expertise of Manchester and Dundee to advance research on psoriasis, arthritis, cancer, lupus and other diseases and Professor Lamond, Director of the Laboratory of Quantitative Proteomics at the University of Dundee, believes that the better use of data can deliver significant benefits in these and other illnesses.

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