One of the primary goals of translational medicine is the application of specialized, early treatments that maximize the potential benefits to patients. Current research is improving our understanding of both disease progress and drug targeting. As this knowledge base increases, it will allow more rapid, individualized diagnosis and treatment for patients.1
Determining the protein patterns indicative of a specific disease provides a more complete picture of its molecular pathology.2 This use of clinical proteomics allows for diagnosis of diseases during their early, “silent” stages, as well as developing effective interventions. These advances will allow, in turn, for greater individualization of treatment.
By uniting proteomic research with clinical application, translational medicine aims to increase the efficacy of treatment targeting. Current therapies may be more specifically targeted. Novel therapeutic targets may be discovered.2 In both cases, better therapeutic targeting can lead to superior clinical results.
One example of current research into improved therapeutic targeting is the work done by Marko-Varga et al. on drug localization in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).3 As COPD has a prolonged period of symptom-free progress, identifying protein patterns indicative of its early development is key to early treatment. Similarly, understanding the specific mechanisms of drug action in patients with COPD may lead to more effective treatment strategies. Using a MALDI LTQ Orbitrap XL mass spectrometer (Thermo Scientific), Marko-Varga et al. identified the localized uptake of ipratropium, an inhaled bronchodilator, in the airway walls of patients suffering from COPD. Tissue maps produced with ImageQuest (Thermo Scientific) software allowed the team to identify a lower level of drug uptake in cells exhibiting tumorous histological patterns than in healthy cells of the airway wall. Developing a more complete understanding of drug uptake in the tissues of patients with COPD can improve treatment at both the early and advanced stages of the disease.
Early diagnosis and effective drug targeting are cornerstones of the specialized care that will be available to patients as laboratory research improves clinical best practices.
- Woolf, S. (2008) ‘The meaning of translational research and why it matters‘, Journal of the American Medical Association, 299 (2), (pp. 211-213)
- Granger, C., et al. (2004) ‘National heart, lung, and blood institute clinical proteomics working group report‘, Circulation, 109 (14), (pp.1697-1703)
- Marko-Varga, G., et al. (2012) ‘Understanding drug uptake and binding within targeted disease micro-environments in patients: A new tool for translational medicine‘, Clinical and Translational Medicine, 1 (8), published online May 31, 2012. doi: 10.1186/2001-1326-1-8