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As Sigma-Aldrich Debuts First Commercial Protein Standards, HUPO Begins Testing Its Delayed Version

LONG BEACH, Calif. Sigma-Aldrich launched the first commercially available protein standard mixture at the Human Proteome Organization World Congress this week, while HUPO announced it will begin selecting laboratories for the next phase of its own effort to create protein standard mixtures, a project that has fallen behind schedule.
Sigma-Aldrich’s mixture, the Universal Proteomics Standard, had been eagerly anticipated by researchers since February, when the company released the results of a study involving 100 independent proteomic laboratories evaluating the analytical capabilities of the participants and comparing the strengths of various analytical strategies [See PM 02/23/06].
“People have been asking us, ‘When is it going to be available? How can we get it?’” said Dale Peluso, market segment manager for quantitative proteomics at Sigma-Aldrich.
The mixture, made up of 48 human proteins developed in collaboration with the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities’ Proteomics Standards Research Group, lists for $495. Of the approximately 300 kits that have been manufactured, only about 200 will be available for sale because of prior arrangements made with some customers, Peluso said.
Most of the proteins, he said, are greater than 95 percent pure.
Peluso said the mixture “provides researchers the opportunity to standardize protocols” and to assess analytical techniques.
As HUPO continues to develop protein standard mixtures of its own, Sigma-Aldrich’s decision to launch the product at the group’s World Congress was based on the opportunity to interact with current and potential customers one-on-one, company officials said.
“It was convenient. It’s a big show, there are a lot of people here,” said Tim Fleming, director of global strategic marketing for proteomics at Sigma-Aldrich. No gamesmanship was intended, he said.
Still, HUPO was left looking as if it were playing catch-up when, two days after Sigma-Aldrich’s launch, HUPO officials said they would be selecting 24 laboratories during the World Congress to test 20 proteins created by Invitrogen as part of their collaboration to co-develop a standard protein mixture.
ProteoMonitor first reported the collaboration between HUPO and Invitrogen in July. [See PM 07/27/06]. At the time, officials said that the 24 labs would be chosen, the protein sets would be analyzed, and the results would be announced during this week’s World Congress. Officials did not give a reason for the delay.

“People have been asking us, ‘When is it going to be available? How can we get it?’”

HUPO officials had also said that two sets of protein standards would be created for testing. This week, however, officials said that only one set would be sent to the laboratories. It is unclear whether a second set will be sent out at another time.
John Bergeron, president of HUPO, this week said that the organization will contact about 50 laboratories that are believed are suitable for participation to gauge their interest. From those who express a willingness to participate, 24 will be chosen to test the sample proteins created by Invitrogen.
HUPO officials said they expect the labs to be chosen and protein samples to be sent to them for testing by the end of the year.
HUPO’s Technology Committee, headed by John Yates, principal investigator of the Proteomic Mass Spectrometry Laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute, will oversee the effort.
The 20 proteins will be chosen from 96, which HUPO officials declined to identify. The purity of the proteins are at 95 percent currently and will be 99 percent pure in six months, Bergeron said, adding that Invitrogen is guaranteeing the pristine nature of the proteins. 
Invitrogen plans to commercialize the mixture.
In addition to the 24 proteins about to be tested, ProteoMonitor reported in July that HUPO was planning to develop a protein standard mixture of 200 proteins within a year and a mixture of more than 1,500 within two years.

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