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Key Proteins will Guide Personalized Health

Sep 26 2018

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20/20 Blog

Palo Alto, CA — Physicians, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and patients are collaborating in an effort to move ophthalmology away from symptom-based, trial and error approaches to personalized treatment plans. 

In the Mahajan Lab review article, “Personalized Proteomics for Precision Health: Identifying Biomarkers of Vitreoretinal Disease,” lead author Gabriel Velez, a graduate student in the  lab, details how surgical sampling of vitreous fluid, tear fluid and other ophthalmic tissues will be key in predicting eye disease and pinpointing optimum therapies.

Proteomic analysis, the largescale study of proteins, is revealing the molecular makeup underlying blinding eye disease. These multi-protein snapshots of diseased tissue can expose ongoing molecular processes in real time.         

“While characterizing a single protein often gives insufficient evidence for making a diagnosis or monitoring complex pathologic processes, the ability to measure multiple proteins can enhance our power to diagnose disease or determine the ideal therapeutic regimen,” stated Dr. Mahajan. 

Because of the long time commitment and billions of dollars involved, most drug companies are not developing new therapeutics for rare retinal degenerations or chronic inflammatory eye diseases. Therefore, drug repositioning, which applies approved drugs and compounds towards new indications, is one of the most important outcomes of proteomic analysis. Already, the research team showed that examination of vitreous biopsies can identify constituents that can be targeted by available drugs.

Proteomic profiles might represent the ultimate biomarkers of cellular status in health  and disease. Recent advances in Precision Health often point to the personalized treatment of cancer: cellular biomarkers in the tumor microenvironment have been used to select therapeutic approaches and predict prognosis. 

“With appropriate advances," the Velez article notes, “key ophthalmic protein biomarkers could be used similarly to routinely diagnose eye diseases, such as uveitis, ocular malignancy, retinitis pigmentosa, proliferative vitreoretinopathy, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.

Mahajan emphasized, “Precision medicine can take the guess work out of prescribing medications, make treatment more effective, and lower costs.”

"Personalized Proteomics for Precision Health: Identifying Biomarkers of Vitreoretinal Disease" was published in Translational Vision Science & Technology, September 2018.

Authors include: Gabriel Velez; Peter H. Tang; Thiago Cabral; Galaxy Y. Cho; Daniel A. Machlab; Stephen H. Tsang; Alexander G. Bassuk; Vinit B. Mahajan.

Read the full review article