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Proteomics

Three years ago this term didn’t exist. Now it’s the hottest new concept in the field of biotechnology, such is the pace of change. Proteomics is the study of the way proteins work inside cells, and how they interact with each other. Most importantly, it aims to work out the differences in protein action between diseased cells and healthy ones. One aim is to find chemical markers to determine what’s going wrong when disease strikes and to diagnose disorders; another is to find methods of gene therapy that will cure the problems at the level of the DNA in our genes.

The word is formed in direct imitation of genomics, the rather better-established term for the study of genes and their DNA. (Similarly, the genome, the term for the complete set of genes inside the cell, has given rise to the proteome for its protein equivalent). The two fields are closely linked, as cells make their proteins according to the DNA templates in genes. The rise of proteomics came about because ways were invented to study proteins in the complicated and messy real-life situation inside living cells. One prediction is that it will be a billion-dollar business within five years.

The new Center for Genomics and Proteomics will team chemists, biologists, engineers, and computer scientists to mine genome data from a variety of organisms for clues to the genetics of behavior, evolution, and the origins of disease.

Science, Jan. 1999

While genomics — the study of the human genome — has captured great attention in recent years, proteomics is now widely regarded as the next wave in “uncoding” how the body works, in order to improve human health.

Canadian Corporate News, Sep. 1999

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 23 Oct. 1999

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-pro3.htm
Last modified: 23 October 1999.