A team of researchers from the University of California, Cambridge University and SomaLogic have found that the large-scale measurement of proteins from a single blood test could effectively predict people’s risk of developing a broad range of diseases.

Human blood contains around 20,000-30,000 different proteins coded by DNA and control biological processes.

Some proteins such as hormones are secreted into the bloodstream to regulate processes in health or disease while others leak into the blood as a result of cell damage or cell death.

Secreted and leaked proteins can indicate health and disease risks, according to the research team.

A proof-of-concept study was carried out with nearly 17,000 individuals, divided into five observational cohorts.

This team collected plasma samples from each participant and scanned 5,000 individual proteins from a single blood sample. The trial measured nearly 85 million protein targets.

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By using machine learning methods and statistical methods, the team developed predictive models for a wide variety of potential health problems.

Precision levels of the models differed, with some indicating high predictive rate such as in case of percentage body fat while others indicated modest prognostic rate such as for cardiovascular risk.

However, researchers found that the protein-based models were all either better predictors than models that depended on traditional risk factors or a lesser expensive approach than conventional testing method.

SomaLogic chief medical officer Stephen Williams said: “It’s remarkable that plasma protein patterns alone can faithfully represent such a wide variety of common and important health issues, and we think that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“We have more than a hundred tests in our SomaSignal pipeline and believe that large-scale protein scanning has the potential to become a sole information source, a Liquid Health Check for individualised health assessments.”