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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010, Article ID 613504, 14 pages
Review Article

Application of “omics” to Prion Biomarker Discovery

1Molecular PathoBiology, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 3R2
2Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 0W3

Received 24 July 2009; Revised 3 December 2009; Accepted 30 December 2009

Academic Editor: George Perry

Copyright © 2010 Rhiannon L. C. H. Huzarewich et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The advent of genomics and proteomics has been a catalyst for the discovery of biomarkers able to discriminate biological processes such as the pathogenesis of complex diseases. Prompt detection of prion diseases is particularly desirable given their transmissibility, which is responsible for a number of human health risks stemming from exogenous sources of prion protein. Diagnosis relies on the ability to detect the biomarker , a pathological isoform of the host protein , which is an essential component of the infectious prion. Immunochemical detection of is specific and sensitive enough for antemortem testing of brain tissue, however, this is not the case in accessible biological fluids or for the detection of recently identified novel prions with unique biochemical properties. A complementary approach to the detection of itself is to identify alternative, “surrogate” gene or protein biomarkers indicative of disease. Biomarkers are also useful to track the progress of disease, especially important in the assessment of therapies, or to identify individuals “at risk”. In this review we provide perspective on current progress and pitfalls in the use of “omics” technologies to screen body fluids and tissues for biomarker discovery in prion diseases.