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Behring Inst Mitt. 1990 Oct;(86):1-66.

[Chemistry and clinical significance of human plasma proteins].

[Article in German]

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Forschungslaboratorien, Behringwerke AG, Marburg, Bundesrepublik Deutschland.


Enormous progress has been made in the course of the past few years in the various fields of plasma protein research. The primary and disulfide bridge structures are now known for almost all of the 120 proteins thus far isolated from human plasma, including trace and ultratrace proteins as well as a number of genetic variants. Genetic cloning and the derivation of the amino-acid sequence from the nucleotide sequence have played a decisive role here. However, we are only in possession of the exact three-dimensional structure for a small number of plasma proteins. The major problem in this respect is, at present, the lack of suitable protein crystals for X-ray structure analysis. We still do not know the physiological function of a large number of plasma proteins, despite the fact that they, in part, have been well characterised both physically and chemically and could be assigned to their respective protein families on the basis of their amino-acid sequence. The development of techniques for protein structure determination is relatively well advanced today, yet we lack methods of illuminating the structure-function relationship. There are more than 20 different highly purified protein preparations in virus-safe form available today for substitution therapy. To this effect new purification procedures have been developed which pay particular attention to virus elimination and inactivation. Should present indications be confirmed, one may assume that further plasma proteins (e. g. proteinase inhibitors, apolipoproteins, fibronectin) could be of significance in therapy and prophylaxis. Unlimited amounts of human blood are not available. Gene technology offers a promising alternative, at least for the production of plasma protein administered to patients in small amounts. Work is being done intensively on various blood coagulation factors and proteinase inhibitors at the moment, and factor VIII: C is already being successfully used for the treatment of patients with hemophilia A. However, it will no doubt take years before recombinant plasma proteins are in a position to extensively replace traditional preparations. In the field of diagnostic investigation with plasma proteins immunochemical methods of determination have assumed an increasing significance during the course of the last two decades. Particularly the development of automated techniques which allow serial quantification of individual proteins, has made protein profiling for diagnosis and monitoring in a number of diseases a routine procedure in many clinical laboratories.

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