Deciphering the role of proteins in the initial infection process and the subsequent progression of the disease is of utmost importance. This is where the vast field of proteomics comes in.
In a recent overview that was published in the Journal of Proteins and Proteomics, Rashmi Rana and her colleagues from the Department of Research at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi try to highlight some of the development in proteome technologies. As it comes, 80% of the Covid-19 patients either have mild or no symptoms. However, 20% of the patients progress into a severe state that leads to death.
“Patients exhibiting these clinical manifestations have already progressed to a clinically severe phase and require immediate access to specialized intensive care; otherwise, they may die rapidly,” write the researchers. Therefore, it is crucial that new approaches are developed that can predict and treat the cases that might progress to clinically severe disease, the team added.
These methods mainly focus on the role proteins in bringing about the infection. There are many technologies out there that are effective at detecting differentially expressed genes. But oftentimes, these techniques fail to detect the proteins involved in the process. Because of this, proteomics are essential.
There are numerous techniques that can accurately isolate proteins from complex compounds. Such techniques are integral for the analysis of temporal expression patterns, cellular or sub cellular distribution, and protein-protein interactions. The effective ones are the mass spectrometry (MS) based techniques.
MS-based techniques are not something new. Scientists and doctor are already using it to analyse viral proteins that cripple the respiratory system. At present, RT-PCR tests are used to detect viral genes. However, because of the high mutability of SARS-CoV-2, RT-PCR tests are sometimes not sensitive enough to the viral payload.
In comparison, MS-based detection can provide simple and rapid detection of the causative agent. If utilised, proteomics can provide enough information regarding the virus. Such a stream of information can improve our understanding of the virus.
“For many decades, proteomics has proved its versatility and efficacy for the development of the novel potential drug targets for constantly appearing diseases posing challenges to humankind,” Rana and her colleagues wrote.
In case of Covid-19, proteomics can point out the novel biomarkers and define point-of-care procedures. These procedures can turn out to be very cost-effective and can even possibly be delivered closer to the patient’s home setting.
“In this developing world, there exists a challenge of more effective care for SARS-CoV-2, and point-of-care testing may play a much greater role here in the future,” the team concluded.