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Scientists unveil interactive atlas of body's proteins

Published torsdag 6 november 2014 kl 10.01
"We have spent about 100 man years on IT development"
(5:30 min)
Mathias Uhlén, professor of microbiology at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Photo: Lisen Forsberg/Sveriges Radio

The results of one of the biggest Swedish research projects ever is being made available today: An interactive atlas of the proteins in the human body. The project is said to be just as revolutionary as the mapping the human DNA genome.

The SEK 900 million project has taken 11 years, with a staff of 150, report the newspapers Uppsala Nya Tidning and Dagens Nyheter.

“Our protein atlas is a unique tool for researchers all over the world to find new knowledge about the role of proteins in health and illness,” Professor Fredrik Pontén of the Rudbeck Laboratory in Uppsala tells Uppsala Nya Tidning. “Anyone can have unlimited access to this new interactive database, free of charge.”

The atlas includes 13 million images, covering nearly 85 percent of the body’s 20,000 proteins. One unexpected discovery was that around half of these are basic proteins, found in every cell in the body.

That, news agency TT says, means the human body has relatively few building blocks, used everywhere, but in different amounts. This can help the pharmaceutical industry to avoid unexpected side-effects of its drugs.

While the DNA determines the shape of the body, it’s the proteins that carry the messages for the DNA.

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