Laurel Oldach reports:
Philipp Geyer was interested in learning how protein levels in the blood change when a person tries to lose weight. Several years ago, Geyer, then a postdoctoral fellow, and his colleagues in Matthias Mann’s lab at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry began to analyze samples from a dieting study, hoping to identify biomarkers that could predict the outcome of dieting and other interventions. They found something a little different from what they were looking for.
While studying the plasma of 1,500 dieters tracked for 14 months, Geyer and his colleagues observed much more variation in protein levels across individuals than within any one person over time. Although some protein levels changed dramatically in response to dietary intervention, many others remained steady. “For example, alpha-two microglobin,” Geyer said. “It’s tenfold different between people, but completely stable within a person.”
As patterns emerged from the data, allowing them to pick out the same person at different time points, Geyer and his colleagues began to worry: Could these patterns one day be used to de-anonymize a study participant?
That question got my attention, so I am linking to the article here so those who are curious can read more. I’ve personally got this bookmarked to read when I have some time and a fresh cup of coffee at hand.
Read more on ASBMB Today.