Normalization to external reference for reduction of technical variation


Mitigation of technical variability is a key aspect in relating proteomic biomarkers to clinical endpoints. A primary source of variability comes from inherent issues in the actual technology used to measure the protein levels in a sample, but additional variability can come from many different sources, including plate differences, sample handling differences, and study or cohort differences. Without bridging samples, these different sources of variation can lead to difficulties in combining different cohorts and across studies longitudinally, preventing researchers from sharing data easily. Here, we present results for normalization to an external reference population, which allows us to combine datasets without the need for bridging samples.


SomaLogic performs a series of steps to standardize the SomaScan® Assay data. These steps are hybridization normalization, plate scaling and calibration, and the adaptive normalization by maximum likelihood (ANML), which normalizes SomaScan EDTA plasma measurements to a healthy U.S. population reference. Because this normalization technique does not require bridging samples, it can be used to combine data from different times and sources. The impact of this type of normalization is quantified through CV calculations over multiple runs and time points. As an example, we demonstrate the benefits of this method on age and sex as clinical endpoints.


The median coefficient of variation (CV) on raw SomaScan data is 22.4%, which drops to 5.3% after all standardization steps and ANML normalization are applied. Longitudinally, the median CV after ANML normalization remained steady at 5.5% across all cohorts that were run between June of 2020 and May of 2023. Examination of analytes related to age and sex confirmed that known biomarkers were more easily identified after ANML normalization was applied.


Use of a reference population allows for bridging across varied cohorts and studies, which allows for increased use of SomaScan data
among researchers using proteomics for biomarker discovery and clinical development.


Y. Hagar
D. Maxwell
C. Jamison
M. Westacott
D. Perry

SomaLogic Operating Co., Inc., Boulder, CO, USA

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