A new proteomics facility that will offer expertise and equipment for the study of proteins to both public- and private-sector researchers in the UK and abroad has been launched in Newcastle.

Last year Cels – the Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences Ltd – secured funding of £4 million to develop the North East Proteome Analysis Facility (NEPAF), which will provide a range of services exploiting proteomics as a tool for drug discovery, development and manufacture, as well as the diagnosis and monitoring of disease.

These services include protein extraction using one of the first pressure cycling homogenisers in the UK, protein separation based on Two-Dimensional Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis (2D-PAGE), and multidimensional liquid chromatography (MD-LC).

Separated proteins can then be investigated using state-of-the-art analytical techniques, including six different mass spectrometers and a protein arraying system, with capabilities for biomarker discovery, signal transduction pathway analysis and protein expression analysis, as well protein identification, quantification and characterisation.

The main NEPAF laboratory is on campus at Newcastle University while a second laboratory is located on the Durham University campus. The facility is supported by the regional development agency One North East and the European Regional Development Fund.

Through Cels, NEPAF has acquired a dedicated team of six scientists, including experienced practitioners in the field of proteomics, the Centre noted. This team has already engaged with a number of regional pharmaceutical companies and academic research groups, working on projects to demonstrate the unit’s capabilities.

NEPAF is now being launched into the wider bioscience network of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as contract research organisations. It will also offer proteomics services to the academic research sector and make novel applications of protein research available to industries outside the traditional biopharmaceutical sphere, such as food, beverages and quality testing laboratories.

Cels is funded primarily by One North East to drive the growth of the healthcare and life sciences economy in North East England.