Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Where to Start?

Predictive biomarkers for human disease are highly sought after, says In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe. But where, exactly, should one start in the search for biomarkers? A patient's antibodies might be a good place to begin, Lowe says, but "that's some haystack to go rooting around in." Another popular approach — thanks to advanced mass spec and data handling techniques, he says — has been to search patients' tissue samples for "unusual molecules," though that still poses challenges, Lowe says. In a Cell paper, a team of researchers from Florida and Texas takes a different approach. The authors generated a library of several thousand "weirdo 'peptoids'" — antigen molecules that look like "rather weirdly modified peptides," Lowe says — and assembled a microarray and also used them as probes against serum from animal models. And it appears to be effective. In a study of Alzheimer's disease patients, the researchers found three "peptoids" that seemed to be linked to the disease; it's not a solid diagnostic tool, yet, Lowe adds, but these molecules are "pretty impressive."