Towards proteome standards: The use of absolute quantitation in high-throughput biomarker discovery

Tzu Chiao Chao, Nicole Hansmeier, Rolf Halden

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The use of proteomics to profile biological fluids and identify therein biomarkers for cancer and other diseases was initially received with considerable excitement. However, results have fallen short of the expectations. Traditionally, protein biomarkers have been identified by measurement of relative expression changes between case and control samples from which differentially expressed proteins are then considered to represent biomarker candidates. We argue that current individual proteomics-based biomarker discovery studies lack the statistical strength for the identification of high-confidence biomarkers. Instead, multi-group efforts are necessary to facilitate the generation of sufficient sample sizes. This is contingent on the ability to collate and cross-compare data from different studies, which will require the use of a common metric or standards. Though profound, the technical challenges for absolute protein quantification can be overcome. The use of matrix specific, shared standards for absolute quantitation presents an opportunity to facilitate the much needed, but currently impossible, comparisons of different studies. In addition to community-wide approaches to standardize pre-analytical biomarker research studies, it is also important to establish means to integrate experimental data from different studies in order to assess the usefulness of proposed biomarkers with sufficient statistical certainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1641-1646
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Proteomics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 16 2010


  • Body fluids
  • Peptide standard
  • Proteomics
  • Sample size
  • Standardization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry


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