Agilent Technologies Announces Collaboration with Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

23 Sep 2013
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Agilent Technologies Inc. has announced a collaboration with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health that will allow scientists to detect and measure metals at the protein level directly from tissue in neurodegenerative diseases such as motor neuron, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

For scientists and researchers, the ability to monitor and measure a set of proteins that have metal-binding capacity (metalloproteins) could lead to significant advances in their understanding of disease mechanisms and normal biological processes. Unlocking the role of metalloproteins will provide a more complete picture of what goes wrong during disease processes. This understanding could create new opportunities to develop therapies that target specific metalloprotein dysfunction.

"This is an important breakthrough for the scientific community as we push forward for more effective treatments for a range of neurological and psychiatric conditions," said Dr. Blaine Roberts, senior research scientist at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Scientists recognize that a role for metals in neurodegenerative disease exists but have been able to secure very little molecular detail at the protein level for how changes in the levels of metals such as copper, iron or zinc translate to altered cellular function and disease.

"We are very excited about this collaboration, as it matches the leading-edge brain research of the Florey's and Agilent's leading-edge technologies," said Rod Minett, general manager of Agilent's Life Sciences Group in South Korea and the South Asia-Pacific region. "The emerging field of metalloproteins will help us better understand the human brain and could potentially lead to better clinical outcomes for patients."

The Metalloproteomics Laboratory at the Florey specializes in quantitatively determining the changes of metalloproteins directly from biological material using liquid chromatography techniques coupled with the Agilent 7700 ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry). These techniques allow scientists to conduct direct comparison of metalloproteins quickly, produce detailed metalloprotein maps and, most important, reveal the range and complexity of metalloproteins that exist in those biological samples.

"The study of metal-protein interactions and of the biological activity of metalloproteins is critical for understanding how biological systems work," said Dr. Rudolf Grimm, Agilent's director of science and technology and manager of collaborations in the Asia-Pacific region. "This collaboration will help strengthen Agilent's position in the academic research market."

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