GlossaryAmino acids: The building blocks of proteins. Most human proteins are synthesised from a range of 20 different amino acids.
Antibody: A type of protein molecule produced by cells of the immune system, in response to the presence of a foreign substance, known as an antigen. Antibodies bind to antigens in a precise physico/chemical manner and thus neutralise their activity. Over a lifetime, the body will produce thousands of different antibodies to the range of antigens it encounters. Antibody molecules consist of two "light" and two "heavy" protein chains, only part of which actually come into contact with the antigen. The area of the antibody known as the variable region is different and specific for each type of antibody.
Antigen: A substance or organism recognised by the body as being foreign, and which stimulates an immune response.
Bioinformatics: The science of developing computer software and algorithms to record and analyze biology related data, e.g. gene, protein, metabolic pathways and active drug ingredients data.
Biomarker: Used to indicate or measure a biological process (for instance, levels of a specific protein in blood or spinal fluid, genetic mutations, or brain abnormalities observed in a PET scan or other imaging test). Detecting biomarkers specific to a disease can aid in the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of affected individuals and people who may be at risk but do not yet exhibit symptoms.
Bispecific antibody: An antibody developed in the laboratory to recognize more than one protein on the surface of different cells. Examples include bispecific antibodies 2B1, 520C9xH22, mDX-H210, and MDX447.
DNA: The chemical chain that carries the genetic instructions for making a living organism.
Enzyme: A biomolecule, usually a protein, that catalyzes a chemical reaction, often speeding up the reaction.
Genome: All of the DNA contained in an organism or a cell, which includes both the chromosomes within the nucleus and the DNA in mitochondria.
Genomics: The branch of science/technology which specializes in the systematic study of genomes, (including their molecular characterization) and the production of their gene products (proteins), their role in health and disease, and the effects of manipulation of these systems by agents such as pharmaceuticals and radiation.
Glycomics/Glycobiology: A discipline of biology that deals with the structure and function of oligosaccharides (chains of sugars). The term glycomics is derived from the chemical prefix for sweetness or a sugar, "glyco-", and was formed to follow the naming convention established by genomics (which deals with genes) and proteomics (which deals with proteins). The identity of the entirety of carbohydrates in an organism is thus collectively referred to as the glycome.
Intracellular: Within the cell.
Intercellular: Between cells.
Knock-in mice: An experimental line of mice, produced from embryonic stem cells in which a reporter gene has been inserted into the genome, in such a position that the expression, or activity, of a gene under investigation can be monitored.
Knockout mice: A commonly used type of animal model, a mouse population resulting from embryonic stem cells in which a normally functional gene has been switched off, or replaced by a non-functional form of the gene. The function of such a gene can be understood by studying the characteristics of animals unable to produce the gene product.
Monoclonal antibody: Highly specific, purified antibody derived from only one subset of cells and which recognizes only one antigen or epitope. Monoclonal antibodies can be used alone, or they can be used to deliver drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to a tumor. Monoclonal antibodies can be in vivo (in the body) or in vitro (in the lab), directed against a specific epitope, and produced by a single clone of B cells, or a myeloma (cancer) cell line.
mRNA - messenger RNA: The end product of transcription of a gene. Both introns and exons are initially transcribed to form a pre-RNA, which undergoes splicing by nuclear enzymes to remove the introns and create mRNA, which is then used as a template for protein production on the ribosomes of the cell.
Peptide: Two or more amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) that are chemically linked to each other.
Protein: A complex molecule made up of one or more polypeptide chains. Proteins perform a wide variety of activities, and as such they are essential to the life of the cell.
Proteome: The complete set of proteins from the information encoded on a genome that can be expressed and modified by a cell, tissue or organism. While the genome is virtually static, the proteome can continually change its state.
Proteomicist: A scientist whose specialty in proteomics, a scientist who studies proteomes
Proteomics: The study of the structure and function of proteins in a cell or tissue at a specific time under certain pre-defined conditions; includes information on the way the proteins function and interact with each other inside cells.
Proteomic profile: An evaluation of proteins in a sample (frequently of blood). This may help detect early cancer or cancer recurrence, or help predict response to treatment.
Polyclonal antibody: A sample that contains a mixture of antibodies active against a specific antigen, each recognizing a different epitope or region of the antigen.
Receptor: Proteins that are involved in the transmission of signals to a cell. They can bind specific substances, like hormones, followed by a specific reaction. Example: steroid-hormone receptors
Splicing: A stage in the processing of mRNA, in which intervening sequences (introns) are removed from a primary RNA transcript (pre-RNA) and the coding exons are joined together to form the mature mRNA molecule.
Western blot: a method of quantifying the amount of a protein of
interest in a cell extract, by first separating the cell proteins using
gel electrophoresis (PAGE), then "blotting" the resultant spots
onto a thin membrane.