UK Biobank unveils studies to measure circulating protein concentrations

8 December 2020 (Last Updated December 8th, 2020 10:32)

UK Biobank has announced that a consortium of ten biopharma companies will conduct a study to analyse circulating concentrations of almost 1,500 plasma proteins in around 53,000 of its participants.

UK Biobank unveils studies to measure circulating protein concentrations
A representation of the 3D structure of the protein myoglobin showing turquoise α-helices. Credit: AzaToth.

UK Biobank has announced that a consortium of ten biopharma companies will conduct a study to analyse circulating concentrations of almost 1,500 plasma proteins in around 53,000 of its participants.

Companies including Amgen, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Regeneron and Takeda Pharmaceutical commissioned and funded the Pharma Proteomics Project.

Reported to be one of the largest studies of blood protein concentrations, the project will aim to enhance the field of proteomics, aiding in better understanding of disease processes and supporting the development of innovative drugs.

UK Biobank made available de-identified genetic data on its 500,000 participants to scientists to find potential DNA hotspots associated with human diseases.

These genetic variants can act as signposts for scientists in discovering and developing drugs.

Measuring various circulating proteins will aid in studying the link between genetic variation and circulating protein levels to understand the connection between genetics and human disease.

Swedish proteomics company Olink will carry out the lab work to measure the proteins using its technology, which merges high throughput and quality protein-level data from small sample volumes.

The resulting de-identified dataset will be added to the UK Biobank research resource.

After a nine-month exclusivity period for firms funding the assays, data will be available to all approved researchers.

The study intends to offer an extensive map of the levels of about 1,500 proteins in the body.

UK Biobank chief scientist Professor Naomi Allen said: “Measuring protein levels in the blood is crucial to understanding the link between genetic factors and the development of common life-threatening diseases.

“With data on genetic, imaging, lifestyle factors and health outcomes over many years, this will be the largest proteomic study in the world to be shared as a global scientific resource.”

Samples will be collected from about 1,500 UK Biobank participants who have evidence of previous Covid-19 infection, enabling a better understanding of the way it affects protein levels and ultimately long-term health.