When I tell you I’m about to talk about proteomics, your initial response may simply be, “huh?” Even in the world of health and longevity, it’s not exactly the most common topic of conversation. A company called Range Biotechnologies is looking to change that by scaling proteomics in a way never seen before, to not just diagnose disease but also assess its progression (https://longevity.technology/news/powering-precision-medicine-with-proteomics/).
So, let’s discuss exactly what we mean by proteomics. The basic definition is simple enough; it’s the study of proteins. As anyone with an interest in health knows, proteins are essential to keep the human body functioning. They’re chains of amino acids responsible for muscle growth and repair, DNA replication and even providing some energy. All the proteins in a living organism collected together are known as a proteome.
Proteins can be complicated, so studying them is quite a challenge. Different proteins need to be identified, their exact purposes and interactions understood in detail. When your field of interest is longevity science, you’re particularly interested in which protein biomarkers can be used in early disease diagnosis.
Range Biotechnologies wants to take things further. Its so-called “translational economics” is a fusion of genomics and synthetic biology with molecular engineering. The aim is to make diagnosis more than a yes/no thing. It’s not a case of either you have the disease or you don’t. The focus is on longitudinal dynamics, how slow-developing illnesses progress from warning signs to onset to symptom progression to their latter stages through a series of small, sometimes almost unnoticeable shifts over many years.
Instead of comparing to other people with completely different physiologies, you can compare someone to themselves at different points in time. At the moment, multiple tests over time for one person can have a prohibitive cost. Even one lone diagnostic can be incredibly expensive.
The Range Bio approach has involved reengineering protein detection methods that haven’t changed since their emergence in the 1970s. This means being able to detect more protein biomarkers in more samples at a quicker rate, the kind of analytical tools that will be invaluable to the new companies that want to enter the field down the line.
It’s an approach that involves long-term planning and a lot of precision. First, a lot more research and development is needed, which will be possible thanks to the latest round of seed funding.