From bedside to bench: applications of proteomics for personalized medicine


Institute for Biomedical Technologies
National Research Council
Milan, Italy

Dept of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, University of Milan

Institute for Biomedical Technologies
National Research Council
Milan, Italy


Recently, it is changed the way to perform biomedicine investigations, preferring a system-oriented approach to a reductionist one. This new approach is known as Systems Biology and it is supported by the development of high-throughput “-omics” technologies combined with powerful computational and bioinformatics tools. In this respect, current advances introduced by MS-based shotgun proteomics facilitate large-scale analyses, allowing detection and validation of differentially expressed proteins as potential biomarkers of physiopathological states and the identification of metabolic pathways in which they are involved.
This branch of proteomics, which translates proteomics in clinical application, correlating molecular expression to biological processes, is defined Clinical Proteomics. Purpose of this review is to give an overview about Systems Biology and Clinical Proteomics, and their contribution to pave the way for Personalized Medicine, focused on risk assessment, prevention, early diagnosis, and proper treatment for everyone.

Historically, the strategy adopted by scientists in medical research is to employ “the reductionist approach” (1) in order to explain the complexity of human biology, in both health and disease, starting from the study of its simplest and smallest constituents. Thus, researchers gradually shifted their focus from the anatomical study of the body as a whole, to physiology (organs) up to cellular (cells) and molecular biology (i.e. genes, proteins, lipids and metabolites) (2,3). Due to the lack of adequate tools for large-scale analysis and data handling, this strategy has been adopted for a long time with a widespread diffusion and it has played a fundamental role in the discovery of cellular and molecular structures.
However, the characterization of isolated components alone has begun to show its limit in many areas of biomedical research.
Without considering the interactions among the single structures and the influences from the environment, the reductionist approach did not provide a complete understanding of biological systems nor a prediction of their behavior (1). In fact, in both ...