Biomarkers for Battling Chronic Diseases

New tools to diagnose the onset and progression of disease

As Scotland’s population ages, chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease will place an increasing burden on healthcare resources. Genetic studies can help reveal which individuals are at increased risk of a given disease, but they are unable to determine when symptoms will first start, or how rapidly the condition will worsen. The ability to diagnose a disease at the earliest possible stage is an important step towards developing novel ways to prevent and treat common chronic diseases.

dominiczak_80Generation Scotland scientists, led by Prof. Anna Dominiczak (pictured left) at the University of Glasgow, have secured a Strategic Research Development Grant of £2m from the Scottish Funding Council for the discovery of new biomarkers in chronic disease. The biomarkers in question are proteins whose levels increase or decrease as a disease starts or progresses.

The identification and characterisation of suitable proteins requires the use of cutting-edge technology such as high resolution capillary electrophoresis and high mass accuracy tandem mass spectrometry. The long-term goal of the project is to develop robust tests that accurately determine disease status and to integrate the proteomic data with genetic information from the Generation Scotland Scottish Family Health Study. This dual approach could potentially revolutionise the management of chronic disease as well as opening up a whole new area of medical technology concerned with developing novel treatments for these common illnesses.