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UK Biobank Collaborating With Biopharmas to Profile Plasma Proteome of 53K Subjects

NEW YORK – UK Biobank said on Monday that it is working with a consortium of 10 biopharmaceutical companies to use Olink's proteomic technology to measure the concentrations of roughly 1,500 plasma proteins in around 53,000 UK Biobank participants.

According to the organization, it will be one of the largest studies of plasma proteomics to date and will support better drug development and improve understanding of disease processes.

The study has been commissioned and is funded by biopharma companies including Amgen, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Genentech (a member of the Roche Group), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Regeneron, and Takeda Pharmaceutical.

Financial details of the project were not disclosed.

It will use Olink's proximity extension assay, which uses pairs of antibodies linked to DNA strands that, upon the antibodies binding to their target, are brought into proximity. After DNA polymerase extension, the product can be used as a surrogate marker for the target protein.

These protein measurements will be combined with available genetic information from participants, allowing researchers to study the association between genetic variation and protein expression and further illuminate links between genetics and disease.

The de-identified data produced by the effort will be added the to UK Biobank and will be made available to all approved researchers following a nine-month exclusivity period for the companies funding the projects.

The dataset will include samples from roughly 1,500 participants who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 as well as 1,500 who were not, all of whom underwent full body imaging, which could allow researchers to explore changes to internal organs brought on by SARS-CoV-2 and links to circulating protein levels.

"Measuring protein levels in the blood is crucial to understanding the link between genetic factors and the development of common life-threatening diseases," Naomi Allen, chief scientist of the UK Biobank, said in a statement. "With data on genetic, imaging, lifestyle factors and health outcomes over many years, this will be the largest proteomic study in the world to be shared as a global scientific resource. These combined data could enable researchers to make novel scientific discoveries about how circulating proteins influence our health, and to better understand the link between genetics and human disease."