As readers of our IonBench blog know, we like to highlight scientific advances that are aided by mass spectrometry. Since our dedicated lab furniture assists researchers to focus on their work instead of their machines, by muffling mass spec vacuum pumps and making it simple to move a MS around in a crowded lab, we feel a very miniscule right to celebrate too.
We also know that many of you, our readers, are working to make just these sorts of breakthroughs that improve lives and advance science. In this post, we want to celebrate a very significant development in Alzheimer’s research that was aided by mass spectrometry.
Alzheimer’s and Amyloid-β
Alzheimer’s disease or “senile dementia” is increasingly prevalent. Recent statistics indicate that someone in the world develops it every 3.2 seconds. As healthcare improves in low- to middle-income countries, people are living longer and more of them are developing this disease. Unfortunately, by the time patients show symptoms much damage to the brain has already occurred.
Researchers know that one of the earliest indicators of Alzheimer’s is the buildup of amyloid-β protein in the brain. Up until now, there have been two proven ways to identify this buildup in living patients: either image the patient’s brain with a PET scan or extract spinal-cord fluid from the patient. The cost and health risks of these procedures and the rise in the number of patients are some significant reasons why researchers have been working to develop a cost-effective and non-invasive way to screen for the disease.
Engaging Mass Spectrometry in the Process
In January, 2018, researchers in Japan and Australia published the results of their work to create a reliable blood test designed to detect a buildup of those amyloid-β proteins. They began by using immunoprecipitation to isolate amyloid-β. Next, they used mass spectrometry to differentiate amyloid proteins. When the process was complete, they compared their results with those obtained using PET scans. The blood test results were 90 percent successful in predicting the presence of amyloid-β levels in the brain when compared with the PET scanning.
Hope for the Future
Naturally, there is more work to be done before this blood test is ready for implementation in doctor’s offices around the globe. However, optimism abounds. Perhaps in five or six years, people will be regularly screened for Alzheimer’s through a routine blood test thanks to mass spectrometry.
What Advancements Are You Making?
Has your lab made a breakthrough using mass spectrometry? Send us a link to your big advancement so we can highlight it in a future post on mass spec successes. And if you need stronger, safer lab furniture so you can focus on your research, contact us today at 888-669-1233. We’ve got just what you need