In a major development, Chinese researchers have developed the largest-ever collection of data about the proteins produced by genes in a single human organ-the liver.
It is believed that the massive database in both protein and transcript levels could become a roadmap for finding possible new biomarkers and treatments for liver disease, including hepatitis and liver cancer.
The study is part of the China Human Liver Proteome Project, which was officially launched by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MOST) and chaired by Fuchu He.
The scientists at a group of 11 research centers in China pointed out that the liver plays many essential roles in the body, such as producing digestive enzymes, hormones, most of the proteins in the blood, storing carbohydrates for use in supplying energy to the muscles, and activates and breaks down drugs.
Despite that key role, huge gaps likely exist in scientific knowledge about proteins involved in these activities.
They used 10 tissue samples of healthy liver from volunteers, and identified 6,788 non-redundant proteins in the liver samples- the largest group of proteins ever identified by scientists in any human organ.
Half of the proteins have never been seen in the human liver before.
They even made one intriguing and unexplained discovery-many of the newfound proteins appear related to diseases in the nervous system.
The study was published online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research.