The enormous progress in proteomics, enabled by recent advances in MS (mass spectrometry), has brought protein analysis back into the limelight of cancer research, reviving old areas as well as opening new fields of study. In this review, we discuss the basic features of proteomic technologies, including the basics of MS, and we consider the main current applications and challenges of proteomics in cancer research, including (i) protein expression profiling of tumours, tumour fluids and tumour cells; (ii) protein microarrays; (iii) mapping of cancer signalling pathways; (iv) pharmacoproteomics; (v) biomarkers for diagnosis, staging and monitoring of the disease and therapeutic response; and (vi) the immune response to cancer. All these applications continue to benefit from further technological advances, such as the development of quantitative proteomics methods, high-resolution, high-speed and high-sensitivity MS, functional protein assays, and advanced bioinformatics for data handling and interpretation. A major challenge will be the integration of proteomics with genomics and metabolomics data and their functional interpretation in conjunction with clinical results and epidemiology.

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