Michael Tyers, principal investigator at IRIC

Genome Canada announced the successful projects resulting from the 2012 Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Competition. The Competition supports the next generation of tools that are required to deal with the large amounts of data produced by modern genomics technologies and to provide the research community broad access to these tools.

Drs Mike Tyers of IRIC at University of Montreal and Anne-Claude Gingras of the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto were awarded a $ 1M grant from Genome Canada for their project “ProHits Next Generation: A flexible system for tracking, analyzing and reporting functional proteomics data.” The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Génome Québec and the Ontario Genomics Institute also contributed to this grant.

Cells contain tens of thousands of different proteins that perform most of the activities necessary for life. Like the genome that describes the set of all genes of a cell, the proteome is the set of all proteins of a specific cell type. To gain insight into the cause of a disease and to develop new approaches to treat disease, it is necessary to understand how proteins interact with and modify each other. Mass spectrometry is now being used to identify proteins and their modifications and interactions at the proteome scale.

The project of Drs. Tyers and Gingras and their collaborators, including Dr. Pierre Thibault of IRIC, aims to develop innovative ways to analyze massive amount of data generated by mass spectrometry studies across the proteome and especially new bioinformatics tools to improve our understanding of the effects resulting from disease states and drug treatments on protein interactions.

According to Dr. Tyers “It is clear that it is the lack of understanding of complex biological systems that most often leads to failure of drug candidates in clinical trials. Thanks to these innovative approaches, a better understanding of complex systems of cell regulation will better predict the overall biological effects of small molecule much earlier in the process of drug development.”

The grant, spread over two years, will allow Drs Gingras and Tyers and their colleagues from around the world to improve and increase the capacity of the ProHits software developed jointly in recent years.