The unique value of proteomics to better understand biology and drive therapeutic development has long been recognized by many scientists, but broad implementation has been hampered by perceived limitations in available protein analysis technologies. Here we consider these challenges and how they are now being overcome.
Obtaining robust, high-quality proteomics data at the scale required for broad acceptance and integration of protein studies into multiomic approaches necessitates certain key attributes from the technologies involved.
The most frequently cited challenges for proteomics
Sample volume requirements
Several of these challenges have been particularly acute when measuring proteins at high multiplexing levels, which is a prerequisite for large scale proteomics studies. Building multiomic strategies around robust, high-quality proteomics requires an approach that overcomes these challenges, delivering actionable data that supports effective decision-making and drives progress in biological research and development of new and better therapies.
Making sense of the huge, complex data sets generated from large-scale multiomics analyses and integrating these with clinical/phenotypic data for real insights into biological questions is also an increasingly challenging area. Developments in biostatistical and bioinformatic methods, tools and expertise are likely to be as important as the technologies developed to generate data.
Scientists can now simultaneously measure thousands of human proteins using just a few µL of blood sample
To meet these challenges, Olink has developed technological solutions to meet the challenges of large-scale, high-quality proteomics data generation. Our bioinformatics tools and expertise help convert data into biological understanding, even in large, complex multiomics projects.
Our core Proximity Extension Assay (PEA) technology uses pairs of oligonucleotide-coupled antibodies in a dual recognition methodology that develops unique DNA barcodes for NGS (Olink® Explore) or qPCR (Olink® Target) readout, overcoming many of the challenges previously associated with multiplex protein assays (e.g. specificity, sensitivity and dynamic range).
With readout on high performance NGS instruments, Olink Explore enables proteomics at previously unattainable levels of multiplexing and throughput. Scientists can simultaneously measure thousands of human proteins using just a few µL of blood sample, with highly specific, thoroughly validated assays that cover a very wide dynamic range (fg/mL to µg/mL). Using the Olink Explore 3072 platform with NGS readout, for example, 4600 samples per week can be analyzed to measure ~3000 proteins using one NGS instrument, generating around 14 million protein data points.
Proximity Extension Assay (PEA) technology
Read more about how Olink technology delivers this scale of multiplexing and sample throughput without compromising on data quality or assay robustness.
At Olink, we also place great emphasis on data science expertise, comprehensive customer support and active collaboration with the scientific community, to help researchers plan, implement and gain maximum value from their proteomic analyses in the smoothest and most efficient way possible. This includes:
Statistical services and support from our expert Data Analysis Team
Data processing and analysis software and apps
New: Olink® Insight Beta – A platform for protein biomarker data discovery
Comprehensive expert support to help plan, execute and utilize proteomic studies and the data obtained (Field Application Specialists and Technical & Application Support teams)
Support and collaboration with customer-driven research consortia aimed at sharing and combining data (e.g. COLLIBRI, CORAL and SCALLOP)
“Proteomics at the heart of multiomic strategies to enable precision medicine” – an interview with Ida Grundberg Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Olink Proteomics.
In this Q&A article, Dr. Grundberg discusses some of the latest developments in multiomic strategies for precision medicine and how Olink is playing an increasingly important role in this field. She also talks about some of the opportunties and challenges for future developments in multiomics research.
Implementing Olink PEA in multiomics studies: Zhong et al. Next generation plasma proteome profiling to monitor health and disease (2021) Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22767-z
In this first publication citing the use of the Olink® Explore platform, the variability of plasma profiles was analyzed between and within healthy individuals in a longitudinal wellness study, including the influence of genetic variations on plasma levels, and found that healthy individuals have a unique proteome profile that remains stable over time.
Uppsala SciLifeLab proteomics and NGS teams join forces to provide large-scale protein biomarker analysis to researchers. Mikael Åberg and Jessica Nordlund discuss what drove them to form this powerful and mutually beneficial partnership, which resulted in SciLifeLab Uppsala becoming the first external core facility in Europe to run the Olink Explore platform.
A platform for protein biomarker data discovery
Olink® Insight Beta
Foster a profound understanding of proteomics. See data in new ways, collaborate with peers, and access a wealth of information.
Olink Explore is a high-multiplex, high-throughput protein biomarker platform that uses Proximity Extension Assay (PEA) technology coupled combined with an innovative new readout methodology based on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).