Clinical Mass Spec Attains Critical Mass

September 24, 2014
Clinical Mass Spec Attains Critical Mass
Researchers at Keele University have developed SIFT-MS, or selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry, a real-time technique that measures volatile compounds exhaled by patients. SIFT-MS has been used to detect compounds associated with lung cancer, bacterial and fungal infections, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Summer E. Allen, Ph.D.

Clinical applications for mass spectrometry technology have exploded in recent years. Mass spectrometry analysis is often faster, cheaper, and more sensitive than other methods and is thus ideally suited for both diagnostics and therapeutic monitoring.

“Mass spectrometry is finally being accepted by microbiologists as a powerful analytical tool and is currently revolutionizing diagnostics,” says Haroun Shah, Ph.D., head of the proteomics research unit for Public Health England. “I think if you visit the smallest hospital laboratory in the U.K. today, you will find the technique either being used or being considered.”

Dr. Shah helped design the first dedicated linear matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) instrument used for clinical microbiology in 2000. In addition, he co-developed the mass spectrometry methods that are now used by clinical laboratories and biotechnology companies such as Bruker and bioMerieux.

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