Understanding cancer through proteomics: Danny Hillis on

Posted by: Tedstaff

At TEDMED, Danny Hills makes a case for the next frontier of cancer research: proteomics, the study of proteins in the body. As Hillis explains it, genomics shows us a list of the ingredients of the body — while proteomics shows us what those ingredients produce. Understanding what’s going on in your body at the protein level may lead to a new understanding of how cancer happens. (Recorded at TEDMED, October 2010, in San Diege, CA. Duration: 19:55)

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Comments (9)

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  • Putuma Gqamana commented on Apr 13 2012

    Correction: He says the differences in the isotopic features can be used as markers of disease. This is only correct if we could infer this from every isotopic feature uniquely, reproducibly and reliably. The example shown here is just peptide mass fingerprinting, which usually needs additional chemical validation like subsequent fragmentation, internal references, etc, in order to differentiate it from isobaric noise and contaminants. Hence, the inferrence of markers of disease from the differential isotopic features of the mass spectra is unfortunately not that straightforward…yet. Then there is the additional bioinformatic validation that usually takes place after the experiment is done, which is plagued by a myriad of its own problems. The good news however is that latest research now already shows that rigorous chemical, quantitative and bioinformatic verification can actually take place on the fly, i.e., during the experiment. So, we are a few months away from being able to routinely injecting the biological sample into the mass spectrometer, and spitting out the proteome, both global and differential, with little additional tinkering.

  • LINDA Scharf commented on Jan 2 2012

    Just to back-track on past comment- when assaulted with an antibiotic, bacteria will often become more slippery and travel to other areas of the body to attack- why tooth decay can lead to cardiac desease or prosthetic hip infection.

  • LINDA Scharf commented on Jan 2 2012

    How interesting! I have been toying with the idea that antibiotics usually work by depriving the body of certain proteins which is fatal to the infection but not the human. Is the body forced to use alternate available proteins and thus function in an altered way which causes it to cancer? Does the increased “slipperyness” of the infective agent allow it to trigger this maladaptive response in the body? Hmmmm. I recently watched an interesting program about oragami folding in proteins, and the propensity of proteins to re-fold on the same ‘crease-line’ of previous folds. Interesting new aproach to an evil desease.

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  • Jean Thomas commented on Mar 16 2011

    Finally, I see some forward thinkers introducing a scientific way of treating a cancer(ing) patient holistically. So much of the traditional treatment focuses on killing the cancer cells, whereas the holistic methods concentrate on strengthening the body’s natural healing ability. I can’t wait until these approaches integrate the best that proteomics, genomics, nutrition, chemotherapy and radiation therapies have to offer.

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