While we seem to understand a lot about proteins, many of their attributes remain unknown. Sysmex develops technologies and products for measuring proteins which are used in medical examinations and disease identification, influencing treatment decisions, and confirming therapeutic effects. Proteins are not completely understood, and researchers worldwide have been and are on a journey to explore protein potential. Here, we delve into the current state of protein research, Sysmex’s efforts, and our future prospects.
Proteins – Essential Components of the Human Body
Were you aware that proteins, one of the three major nutrients along with carbohydrates and fats, play a key role in the body? Approximately 60% of the human body consists of water, while about 15-20% is made up of proteins, accounting for about half the weight of the human body if water is excluded. Protein is also the main constituent of muscles, organs, and skin. In addition to hormones that regulate body functions, enzymes, antibodies, and even the oxygen transporter hemoglobin, are also constituted of proteins.
“Proteins are involved in a multitude of activities in the living body, and it is no exaggeration to say that the human body is made of proteins. That is why knowing what types of proteins are present in the body and in what quantities is a very important clue in healthcare. In fact, proteins are measured in a broad range of situations, including periodic monitoring of health status through blood and urine tests in health checkups, screening tests to understand whether or not a person is potentially infected with a virus, such as hepatitis B (HBV) or the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), as well as assisting in making diagnoses and monitoring treatment of many diseases.”
The summary above was provided by Phuong Ha Ho, a member of Sysmex’s Immunology & Clinical Chemistry Business Development Department. Phuong and his colleagues are working to add new value to Sysmex’s immunology and clinical chemistry systems by providing comprehensive support for the development of products used in protein measurement and promoting related business endeavors.
Meeting Clinical Needs Through Research and Development with Open Innovation
A protein is an aggregate of amino acids. All proteins have a three-dimensional structure consisting of about 20 different amino acids bound together, and some proteins can bind to other substances such as sugar chains, undergo structural changes due to heat and other factors, or change their structure over time. It is said that there are 80,000 to 400,000 types of proteins in the human body, and research is being conducted across the globe to understand the relationship between certain proteins and specific diseases or health conditions.
Sysmex continues to pursue the potential applications of protein measurement in collaboration with research institutions conducting basic research, and healthcare facilities performing clinical research, by identifying which of a vast array of proteins should be the focus of measurement, and by examining the clinical value of the measurement results.
“We have our own technology that enables proteins to be measured with high accuracy and are also proactively engaged in clinical development from the perspective of creating value through the clinical application of this measurement technology. For example, ahead of competitors, we were able to develop and market a reagent that assists in the evaluation of COVID-19 patients at high risk of progression to a severe condition. We could do this because we have been continuously exploring and validating ways to utilize our measurement technology and potential proteins in line with rapidly changing clinical needs. We will unceasingly pursue the potential of proteins by leveraging our protein measurement technology and collaborative research network.”
Believing in the Untapped Potential of Proteins
According to Phuong, not all of the 80,000 to 400,000 different proteins known to exist in the human body have been fully analyzed, and there are still many areas that remain unknown.
“To date, genome analysis has been the focus of attention, but researchers all over the world are becoming increasingly interested in proteins. The potential of proteins is almost limitless. In addition to the established measurement technologies such as antigen-antibody testing and mass spectrometry, new technologies are also being developed. It is exciting to be involved in a field in which people have such high expectations, and to work with our global R&D members every day, believing in the potential of proteins.”
Aiming to Provide Value Unique to Sysmex
When asked about his dreams for the future at the end of the interview, Phuong stated the following with sparkling eyes:
“My dream is to deliver to the world the novel value that only Sysmex can create through its protein measurement technology. In addition to the reagent mentioned earlier that assists in determining COVID-19 patients at high risk of progression to a severe condition, we have consistently created new value, including a reagent that helps diagnose liver fibrosis, an important aspect to understanding the progression of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Our products are currently being provided mainly in Asia, but my goal is to see our high value-added testing and diagnostic technologies used in clinical settings in every corner of the globe.”
“By taking advantage of our protein measurement technology, Sysmex has provided a high-density lipoprotein (HDL) function measurement service* that contributes to the creation of new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities for cardiovascular diseases. We are also working to establish a patient-friendly, blood-based amyloid beta measurement technology to facilitate the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
. In collaboration with researchers, we are committed to the ongoing exploration of the untapped potential of proteins through open innovation. Proteins are very familiar to everyone’s daily life, and we would be very happy if the public were more interested in the field and recognize its potential in healthcare. We will continue to create value unique to Sysmex and pass it on to the world.”
Sysmex will continue to contribute to the improvement of medical care and human health through commitment to developing protein measurement technology.
- HDL function measurement service: A research assay service (for research purposes) that measures the ability of HDL in the blood to remove and transport cholesterol. In health checkups, the amount of cholesterol present within HDL, which is responsible for removing and transporting cholesterol accumulated in blood vessels to the liver and for inhibiting the onset and progression of atherosclerosis, is measured. Recently, because HDL’s ability to remove and transport cholesterol (HDL function) has been recognized as key to the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease, the assessment of HDL function can play an important role.