We are developing new technologies for more sensitive and efficient analysis. Currently, the usual approach to protein separation is 2D gel electrophoresis. Although powerful, this step is labor-intensive and time-consuming.We are currently developing qualitative and quantitative protein analyses in biological tissues and fluids that avoid this step.
Our attention is being directed in three areas:
(1) More rapid and reliable high-throughput protein identification;
(2) Practical and precise absolute quantification of proteins in complex biological samples; and
(3) The identification and assessment of the extent of protein posttranslational modification.
While methods for detailed and rapid protein identification are now established, practical approaches to sensitive protein quantification are not available. This means that proteins can be identified, but information on the levels of these is much more difficult to obtain, and when available, this information is imprecise and relative.
We are exploring approaches to absolute protein quantification that provide precise, absolute and wide-ranging quantification without the need for chemical modification. Such methods will unquestionably improve our understanding of molecular pathways in health and disease. Our view is that these methods, once developed, will also yield improved diagnostic markers of disease, improved prognostic indices and ultimately, better approaches to the treatment of disease. In addition, we are interested in "unplanned" protein modification: oxidation, nitration, chlorination and other potentially deleterious events. We have developed, and continue to refine, exquisitely sensitive and precise approaches to quantifying and localizing this damage.
Collaborative Research Ventures - Investigators in the mass spectrometry facility work with groups on this campus, at other institutions in the USA and overseas. Some of the key areas of activity include, for example: studies of (differential) protein expression in lung cancer; oxidative damage in cystic fibrosis; oxidative damage in neurodegenerative disease; oxidative damage in rheumatoid arthritis; and changes in protein expression in heart disease. We have already undertaken an extensive analysis of protein expression in normal and diseased lung tissue, and we are now developing approaches to protein quantification in these same tissues. Work of this nature requires a commitment to innovation, hand-in-hand with the application of cutting-edge methods to goal-orientated biomedical research.