The development of scalable and sensitive technologies, such as next generation sequencing (NGS) and quantitative PCR (qPCR), has revolutionized genomics by enabling nucleic acids of almost any sequence to be amplified and quantified with relative ease using standard chemistries, revealing contextual insights into the complete genome and transcriptome. Proteins, on the other hand, the study of which are important for understanding a range of biological conditions, including inflammation, cell regulation, immune responses, and oncology, are not as amenable to analysis. In fact, most technologies for proteomics have lagged compared to their genomic counterparts, especially in terms of throughput, specificity, and cost.
Olink Proteomics, however, is helping to close the gap with their platform that utilizes the strengths of PCR and NGS to establish a multiplex and high-throughput approach for measuring hundreds to thousands of proteins in a small sample. Taking advantage of nucleic acid chemistry, Olink’s Proximity Extension Assay (PEA) technology uses two antibodies attached to partially complementary DNA barcodes for each target region. When the antibodies bind to the same protein in solution, the barcodes become close enough to anneal, enabling DNA extension and amplification. The unique double-stranded DNA sequence associated with each target protein is then detected by either qPCR or NGS.
To help accelerate the discovery of drug targets, Azenta Life Sciences recently launched a solution for protein biomarker detection and surveillance leveraging Olink’s technology. We sat down with Laure Turner, Director of Strategic Alliances, and David Corney, Ph.D., Principal Scientist of Process Development, to discuss how protein biomarker detection using the Olink technology can help researchers advance their work.
How can protein biomarker detection using Olink technology complement genomic approaches?
David Corney: Over the last decade of advances in DNA sequencing, the true diversity of the human genome has been realized. Today, we have a seemingly endless list of variants of unknown significance. Incorporating protein biomarker detection using Olink technology with a cross-disciplinary multiomics approach enables researchers to better characterize the significance of these variants and identify novel disease biomarkers with greater precision and speed.
Laure Turner: Using high-throughput sequencing methods, our customers identify many disease-associated variants, but often the underlying biological mechanisms remain poorly understood. Using Olink technology enables our customers to easily associate genetic variation with circulating protein levels, which in turn, will help to understand the links between genetics and human disease.
What is unique about the Olink platform as a proteomics tool?
D.C.: Olink PEA technology has the unique advantage of enabling lower-plex proteomic analysis with the Target 48 and Target 96 panels which quantify 48 and 96 proteins, respectively, as well as ultra-high-plex assays for simultaneous detection of 3,000 proteins and above. Combined with the high specificity of the platform, it is compatible with numerous sample types, including a variety of bodily fluids, and can use as little as 1 µl of sample input. Thus, Azenta protein biomarker detection offers a unique proteomic solution for researchers wishing to monitor changes in protein levels as well as discover biomarkers in their samples.
L.T.: Most current targeted proteomic technologies have several limitations, including lack of specificity, sensitivity and precision, high sample consumption, lack of scalability, and excessive costs. The Olink platform has overcome these challenges, both from a technical and cost perspective. Offering protein biomarker detection with Olink’s PEA technology allows our customers to identify low abundant circulating proteins with high-throughput resolution.
How do you see Azenta’s proteomics solution being used in research?
D.C.: Olink panels have a range of applications in basic research, as well as supporting pre-clinical studies, translational medicine, and clinical trials. Incorporating this highly multiplexed proteomics approach to population-scale genotyping studies allows for higher specificity in identifying candidate biomarkers and causative variants involved in disease.
L.T.: Olink’s PEA technology provides one platform that can be used for protein biomarker detection using the Explore high-multiplex platform as well as clinical decision making with more targeted focused panels. From early drug discovery to supporting clinical trials, protein biomarker detection using the Olink PEA platform offers a holistic proteomic offering.
Learn more about how Azenta’s protein biomarker detection services can help you accelerate discovery of drug targets.
Explore Protein Biomarker Detection