Principal Investigator with a taste for plasma

2016-07-19   |   0 Comments
Biobank profiling Plasma Proteomics

Jochen Schwenk

Today we meet yet another researcher within the Human Protein Atlas project, Jochen Schwenk, Associate Professor for Translational Proteomics at KTH - Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. He is Director of the Biobank Profiling facility at the Science for Life Laboratory and a Principal Investigator within the Human Protein Atlas and the KTH Center for Applied Proteomics.

– I have a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of TŘbingen in Germany, and when I saw presentations from the Human Protein Atlas Director Mathias UhlÚn at a few meetings I thought that this would be an exiting project to work with after my PhD thesis, Jochen Schwenk says.

In 2004, Jochen had a project with Biacore in Uppsala and decided to use this opportunity to present his thesis work to Mathias Uhlen┤s group while being in Sweden.

– This is how I then started as a postdoc in 2005.

In the Plasma Profiling Group, most of the protein atlas activities are related to analysis of cells or tissue.

– But the work with plasma as a specimen requires different approaches. Instead of applying antibodies in solution on an immobilized sample to define locations of expression, plasma samples are in the solution phase and we need to immobilize antibodies, Jochen explains.

To make best use of the Human Protein Atlas resource and the biobanks available in Sweden and abroad, the group mainly works on these areas:

1) Biomarker discovery using multiplexed immunoassays to identify proteins in plasma that are differentially abundant between groups of patients or related to clinical data (such as age, gender, BMI). Using the Human Protein Atlas resource allows the group to look at protein biomarkers in an unprecedented manner.

2) Antibody validation, undoubtably a very important part when working with antibodies, as it is needed to understand and decipher their selectivity and performance in the assays we use for plasma analysis. This includes that the group develops assays and strategies using different tools from mass spectrometry to epitope mapping.

3) Sandwich assays (aka ELISAs) development to validate the targets we discover and to use these assays bridge between research and diagnostics. The vision is to translate the best candidates into a clinical setting.

4) Development of novel multiplexed assays for a more sensitive and selective analysis plasma and other body fluids.

The group of Jochen Schwenk is involved in different biomarker discovery studies, such as the context of cancer and diabetes.

– For the latter, we are part of a large EU project called DIRECT for which we have profiled more then 4,000 plasma samples, to find some interesting protein candidates and that we are currently preparing for validation. The exiting thing here is that all patients are extensively phenotyped and analyzed using other omics tools such as genomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics. Following the integration of all these different types, the hope is that novel disease biomarkers for glycemic deterioration and therapeutic response will emerge, Jochen Schwenk concludes.

Frida Henningson Johnson