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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Ongoing Challenges in Proteomics

While the human genome contains some 40,000 genes, the number of unique protein structures is estimated to be as high as 1,000,000. Ever since the recognition that proteins are the core element in biological functioning, there has been an ongoing need for ways to deal with their inherent complexity. The dream of proteomics is the identification and characterisation of all proteins. The nightmare of proteomics is the number of unique functional protein structures.

Technology Drives Knowledge

The diversity in protein structures, the post-translational modifications, mostly affecting their function and the range of their abundance, forms the technological and analytical challenge in proteomics. Unravelling the genome opened the door to annotation of sparse information on physiological proteins, with the primary proteins being genetically coded. Much of the diversity in proteins is generated by physiological rearrangement of the genetic information, splicing and post-translational modifications (1,2). The sheer number of protein structures also calls for a high throughput capability of the technologies that are developed and applied. On top of this, the differential biological abundance of individual proteins requires an analytical dynamic range of at least 1,000,000,000 (3). Several analytical quantum leaps have strongly progressed our knowledge on proteins and their function.


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By Dr Lucio van Rooijen, Vice President Business Development,
and Dr Josef Schwarz, Director of Protein Profiling at Xzillion

Dr Lucio van Rooijen is Vice President Business Development at Xzillion GmbH & Co. KG. - a proteomics solution provider that focuses on the pharmaceutical industry. Lucio began his career at the pharmaceutical division of Bayer AG where he held various international management positions in preclinical research, development, marketing, sales and project management. Following 12 years in Big Pharma, he became CEO of a pioneering start-up subsidiary of a German private university, acting as Innovation Broker and Consultant. Thereafter, Lucio headed the business development of a contract sales force organisation, before joining Xzillion.
Lucio holds a PhD in Biochemistry/Neurochemistry from the University of Utrecht. He performed pre- and postdoctoral research in functional protein and lipid biochemistry at the National Institute of Public Health, NL, the University of Michigan and the Louisiana State University.

Dr Josef Schwarz is Director of Protein Profiling at Xzillion GmbH & Co. KG. Josef holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry/Mass Spectrometry from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany. In 1996 he joined the Corporate Research and Technologies Division of Hoechst AG as Head of the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory.
After two years, Josef was appointed Key Account Manager for the new business area, bioanalytics. He was also Project Leader of a research collaboration on an NMR-based lead finding between Aventis Research & Technologies and the Goethe University, Frankfurt. Josef has written for various publications and is a co-inventor of patents in different areas.

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Dr Lucio van Rooijen
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Dr Josef Schwarz
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