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Crystal Ball a Bit Cloudy

What a difference two decades makes.

Nature Biotechnology spoke last week with John Cottrell, David Creasy, and Darryl Pappin, developers of the popular protein identification software Mascot, looking back at how proteomics has changed since they developed their first algorithms for peptide mass fingerprinting back in 1993.

For one thing, experiments have gotten much, much larger than anticipated. When they began work on Mascot in the mid-1990s, the "thought that [analyzing] 300 spectra in a single search would be a reasonable limit," Creasy and Cottrell recall. By 2003, that was up to a million, and today, they note, "there is effectively no limit."

But while their tool's capabilities have perhaps exceeded expectations, the market for proteomics informatics, they note, has underperformed — at least by the standards of some early predictions. In the interview, Creasy and Cottrell cite an August 2001 article in Daily Scan sister publication Genome Technology that "speculated that proteomics software could become a multi-billion dollar per year market."

"The reality is more like a multi-million dollar per year market," they add.

Hey, no one can be right all of the time.

The Scan

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