• Why is Protein Characterisation Important?

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Why is Protein Characterisation Important?

Jul 23 2021

From Mass Spectrometry to Gel Electrophoresis, scientists use a toolbox of advanced methods to characterise proteins. The underlying goal is to isolate and identify the amino acids that make up the polypeptide chain, as well as map the unique sequence in which they appear. Factors like molecular weight, glycosylation, oxidation level and charge variations are also analysed.

Defining proteins

Created by biological processes, proteins are complex molecular structures that act as the basic building blocks for life. They coordinate bodily functions, trigger metabolic reactions and build cellular tissue. While all proteins are made up of just 20 amino acid types, factors listed above such as sequence and molecular weight can change the function and properties of a proteins.

So why is protein characterisation important? Read on to find out more about why profiling proteins matters.

  • Drug discovery and development

Isolating and identifying the amino acids that make up a polypeptide chain is critical to drug discovery and development. A deep understanding of the structural and molecular characteristics of a protein allows researchers to study the effects of potential drug candidates and identify both advantages and red flags. During the manufacturing stages, protein characterisation is used to optimise production, maximise yield and increase the purity of the finished product.

“It is critically important that the complete and in-depth characterization of therapeutic proteins is performed throughout all stages of the drug discovery and development process,” asserts Thermo Fisher Scientific representative, Simon Cubbon. “Ultimately, this facilitates the transfer of appropriate knowledge throughout the pipeline, ensuring product consistency, safety, and efficacy.”

  • Safety and quality control of biological products

In-depth protein assays are fundamental to the safety and quality control procedures used to screen biological products. When manufacturing pharmaceutical drugs, protein characterisation is used to maintain consistency between batches and ensure products meet strict regulatory standards.

  • Disease control and prevention

Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020, protein characterisation has allowed scientists to develop a deep molecular understanding of SARS-CoV-2 proteins. This has not only helped researchers understand the virus but has also been fundamental to the development of vaccines. Prior to the pandemic, protein characterisation has been used to identify the post-translational modifications (PTMs) that can disrupt normal biological processes and cause diseases such as breast cancer.  

Scientists rely on advanced equipment and instruments to characterise proteins, including Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) systems used to profile complex samples. Find out more about how to improve results and maximise efficiency in ‘Optimising DLS Measurements for Protein Characterisation.

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