The government will launch a five-year national research program to analyze the interaction of human proteins as a new scientific goal following the completion of the human genome map in April, science ministry officials said Thursday.
Researchers will study interactions among 20,000 to 30,000 kinds of proteins. Results are expected to contribute to the development of medicine without side effects.
Japan has already been a leader in protein data collection. The latest project is expected to produce better understanding of the mechanics of life, treatment and prevention of illnesses, as well as the manufacture of medicines tailored to individual genetic profiles.
“This is a far-reaching project to shed light upon the phenomena of life by understanding the interaction of proteins,” an official at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s life science division told Kyodo News.
Experts believe there are more than 100,000 kinds of proteins in the human body, including enzymes, hormones and immunoglobulins. The large variety is created through chains of different combinations of amino acids made by genes.
Through a complex network of interactions, proteins make the necessary substances to maintain bodily functions, but they can also cause illness.
The ministry will be the lead developer for the research method and a database.
It will ask for about 10 billion yen for the project in its budget request for the next fiscal year, according to the officials.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will be in charge of identifying the relationships between protein interaction and disease.
The science ministry began a separate Protein 3000 Project last fiscal year that aims to unravel the structure and functions of 3,000 individual proteins over five years, using a budget of 80 billion yen. The two protein studies will be closely connected.
The 12-year Human Genome Project, which involved 24 institutions in Britain, China, France, Germany, Japan and the United States, completed the mapping of some 3 billion DNA base pairs forming human genes in April.