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Extensive Protein Dataset Advances Human Health Research

Circular molecules forming a human body shape.
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A landmark study analyzing over 54,000 samples from the UK Biobank has been published in Nature. Conducted by the Pharma Proteomics Project – a collaboration of 13 leading biopharmaceutical companies – it is the largest body of work analyzing the effects of common gene variations on blood proteins, and how these may contribute to disease, to date.

“The scientific community has invested substantially in genomics for the advancement of precision medicine. However, to identify the right drug for the right patient at the right time, we must move beyond genomics alone,” says Dr. Chris Whelan, director of Neuroscience, Data Science and Digital Health at Janssen Research & Development, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson Company. Whelan is also the leader of the Pharma Proteomics Project.

The study analyzed over 3,000 circulating proteins – a large portion of which had been challenging to capture in the past. The data will be made available in the coming weeks by the UK Biobank and is expected to help scientists in their understanding of why diseases develop, enhancing existing approaches to developing novel diagnostic and treatment approaches. 

 In an exclusive interview with Technology Networks, Dr. Whelan discussed the importance of proteomics in precision medicine, why this study will be impactful and how he envisions the data will be used.

“This momentous study offers whole new avenues of research to the biomedical community, and is a leading example of how cross-sector collaboration can bring about results that are so much greater than the sum of their parts,” says Professor Naomi Allen, chief scientist of UK Biobank.

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“All of these data will soon be available to bona fide researchers across the globe, alongside the existing genomic, lifestyle and health data that UK Biobank holds for its 500,000 volunteers. I am excited for researchers to use these data to identify patterns that could transform our understanding of how diseases develop, and to identify potential new treatment pathways,” she continues.

Reference: Sun & Whelan et al. Plasma proteomic associations with genetics and health in the UK Biobank. Nature. 2023. doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-06592-6

This article is a rework of a press release issued by UK Biobank. Material has been edited for length and content.