Proteasomes are the protein complexes present inside eukaryotes and a few prokaryotes. Proteolysis is the main function of these proteasomes, in which, unnecessary or damaged proteins are degraded by the breakage of peptide bonds catalyzed by enzymes called as proteases. This overall system of protein degradation is known as ubiquitin proteasome system.
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Ubiquitin proteasome system plays an important role in a variety of basic cellular processes and signaling pathways such as regulation of cell cycle, cell division and differentiation, DNA repair, transcriptional regulation, regulation of the immune responses and modulation of cell surface receptors. The regular degradation of proteins is crucial for maintenance of almost all biological processes including cell proliferation, cell metabolism and apoptosis.
Research in the field of ubiquitin proteasome is expanding exponentially. For instance, intensive research is going on in the field of applications of ubiquitin proteasome system in the treatment of cancer, as the pharmacological inhibition properties of proteasomes can be effective in cancer treatment. Potential sites of therapeutic interventions are also under research and the selective inhibition of disease specific components is also being studied for the purpose of developing treatments for diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders.
This indicates a bright future market potential depending upon the time required for commercialization. Currently, there is only one approved ubiquitin proteasome system product available in the market named Velcade. In 2009, total sales of Velcade were estimated to be 1.4 billion and being the only approved drug, its sales are expected to achieve growth at a high compounded annual growth rate.
Although a lot of basic knowledge about the mechanism of ubiquitin proteasome systems is available, its real commercial potential has not yet been fully discovered. The market for ubiquitin proteasome can be divided into four segments on the basis of geography, namely North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World.
Some of the companies involved in the research and development of ubiquitin proteasome systems are Johnson & Johnson, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Novelix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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