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All About the Proteins

Proteomics may soon be able to gauge whether someone who doesn't yet feel ill is about to fall sick, the New York Times Magazine reports.

Michael Behar writes that he sought proteomic testing from SomaLogic, which was conducting a trial, after his mother unexpectedly died from a 'widow-maker,' a plaque blockage in the left anterior descending artery. Behar says that an imaging test found him to have some plaque there, but still a low risk of disease, but that SomaLogic's analysis found him to have a three times higher risk than that initial test.

Jon Heimer, the chief executive of Olink Proteomics, tells Behar that proteomics may become more of a clinical workhorse than genomics as it gives a peek into a person's current state. "Diagnostic medicine has always been about proteins," adds Philip Ma, the president and chief business officer of Seer. "All proteomics is allowing you to do is to look at them in bunches instead of one at a time."

Behar says, though, the these companies and researchers are still teasing out what the presence of various proteins means for different diseases. Still, he adds that SomaLogic aims to someday have a chip that can analyze proteins for multiple disease states. "We know more about the proteome here than anyone on earth, and we think it's a treasure trove of understanding human biology," Larry Gold, one of the founders of SomaLogic, tells the Times magazine. "But I won't lie about it. The science is hard — harder than I thought."