Product News: Applied Biosystems/MDS SCIEX announces new proteomics tools for biomarker research

02 May 2007

Applied Biosystems, an Applera Corporation business, and its joint venture partner, Sciex, a division of MDS Inc.’s Analytical Technologies business, have announced a new instrument system and software designed to assist the growing number of life scientists involved in biomarker research.

An updated release of the Applied Biosystems/MDS SCIEX 4800 MALDI TOF/TOF™ mass spectrometer and enhancements to ProteinPilot™ software, which augments the performance of the 4800 Plus, are expected to help scientists gain deeper quantitative insight into the study of proteomics.

The study of protein biomarkers is important to life scientists because the identification of biomarkers can indicate the presence and progression of a variety of diseases or response to drugs. Central to this research is the science of proteomics, through which thousands of proteins in a biological sample - e.g. tissues, cells, serum, urine, cerebrospinal fluid - can be analysed in the same experiment to obtain a snapshot of the proteome. To discover new biomarker candidates, these snapshots need to be compared quantitatively against other samples, such as healthy versus diseased samples, so the complex differences that exist in biological systems can be found and exploited.

The discovery of protein biomarkers requires large numbers of sample sets and simplified data output produced on proteomics research platforms. Much biomarker research is conducted by biological scientists who are not necessarily proteomics experts. The new advancements from Applied Biosystems/MDS SCIEX are designed to enable non-expert instrument users to achieve higher throughput sample processing, greater depth of proteome coverage, greater statistical rigor, more confident protein detection, and better quantitative results.

Earlier versions of some of these products are helping translational medicine researchers at Cornell University, USA, to complete a biomarker study of Alzheimer's disease. Using proteomics products from Applied Biosystems/MDS SCIEX, the study identified 23 biomarker candidates that were associated with the presence of Alzheimer's disease and may provide links to the pathological mechanisms of the disease. The scientists involved in the study cited the discovery as a potential breakthrough. Currently, there are no definitive tests available for the diagnosis of the disease in living subjects, with confirmation of its existence normally being made after the death of a patient.

"We set out to better diagnose Alzheimer's disease, and the Applied Biosystems/MDS SCIEX joint venture provided powerful proteomics tools to help identify the biomarker candidates from cerebrospinal fluid," said Kelvin Lee, a Cornell professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. "Our research uncovered new candidate biomarkers as a first step. The next step in biomarker research is to validate what we found as relevant, so it may someday translate into a real advancement in the medical treatment of Alzheimer's disease."

New proteomic tools
The new proteomics tools from Applied Biosystems/MDS SCIEX joint venture include:

The 4800 Plus MALDI TOF/TOF™ Analyzer – This system is a proteomics analyser that can identify thousands of proteins in a biological sample. The enhancements from the previous version of the system provide an improved platform to better support the larger sample studies that proteomics researchers are moving towards, especially for biomarker discovery.

New version of ProteinPilot™ Software – ProteinPilot software is designed to maximise the information that can be obtained from the combination of the 4800 Plus and Applied Biosystems iTRAQ® reagents. It delivers more accurate protein detection, easier manageability and broader support for quantitation, thereby providing greater confidence in the results.

These latest tools are designed to be compatible with the future commercial release of the 8-plex version of Applied Biosystems iTRAQ reagents, a labelling chemistry allowing scientists and biologists to quantitatively compare proteins between samples. The 8-plex version of these reagents is expected to increase the number of samples that can be compared simultaneously, providing higher throughput, better accuracy and greater statistical confidence in research results.

“Biomarker research has the potential to change the face of healthcare,” said Laura Lauman, president for Applied Biosystems’ proteomics and small molecule division. “The latest enhancements of our portfolio provide powerful tools that deliver higher throughput for analysing more samples and identifying higher quality biomarker candidates.”

The Applied Biosystems/MDS SCIEX Instruments joint venture, which has existed for the past 20 years between Applied Biosystems and MDS Inc., continues to expand its broad portfolio of mass spectrometry-based technologies and systems that enable new advancements in research laboratories in biotechnology, biomedical and pharmaceutical fields.

“Sciex and Applied Biosystems are playing a leadership role in enabling more advanced research by our development of these innovative and reliable tools in the growing area of biomarker research,” said Andy Boorn, president for MDS Analytical Technologies. “We are committed to delivering the right combination of instruments and software to help move the biomarker research forward by facilitating the integration of the scientists’ efforts.”