Epidemiologists, clinical trialists and experimental scientists are confronted with a wealth of potential opportunities for molecular phenotyping large numbers of biological samples obtained from cohorts, patients or animal models. The challenge now is to ensure that these tools are developed to permit high-throughput analyses of significant numbers of samples, cohort protocols are in place for sample collection and storage, and that systems are in place to capture, warehouse and analyse the range of biolog ical data that will emerge from these studies. This consortium will bring some of these tools into practice during the course of the next four years so that they can be used to identify biomarkers that predict disease, determine risk and relate to disease activity or response to therapy. The programme is divided into three parts: 1. The evaluation of sample collection and storage methodology to optimally sample variation and disease analyte stability. 2. The development of tools for molecular phenotyping at epidemiologic scale including measuring small molecules (metabonomics), mRNA in white blood cells (transcription profiling, protein and peptide analysis using mass spectrometry methodology, affinity arrays and tissue arrays, DNA methdylation patterns and genetics. 3. The development of bioinformatic tools for data warehousing, data interrogation and statistical analysis in large sample sets. 4. The consortium will adopt two separate approaches (i) genome wide, systematic methodology (metabonomics, ms based metanomics) and (ii) limited analysis using sets of candidate biomarkers (transcipt profiling, methylation, affinity arrays, tissue arrays) Collectively, these programmes bring together the necessary skills and tools to allow moleculear phenotyping to be realistically applied, informing our study of common disease and its treatment.
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