“With this methodology, we have advanced methods for tracing metabolic pathways that are perturbed in disease,” says senior author Fariba Assadi-Porter, a UW-Madison biochemist and scientist at the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility at Madison. “It’s a cheaper, faster, and more sensitive method of diagnosis.”
The researchers studied mice with metabolic symptoms similar to those seen in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder that can cause a wide range of symptoms including infertility, ovarian cysts, and metabolic dysfunction. PCOS affects approximately 1 in 10 women but currently can only be diagnosed after puberty and by exclusion of all other likely diseases – a time-consuming and frustrating process for patients and doctors alike.
“The goal is to find a better way of diagnosing these women early on, before puberty, when the disease can be controlled by medication or exercise and diet, and to prevent these women from getting metabolic syndromes like diabetes, obesity, and associated problems like heart disease,” Assadi-Porter says.
The researchers were able to detect distinct metabolic changes in the mice by measuring the isotopic signatures of carbon-containing metabolic byproducts in the blood or breath. They injected glucose containing a single atom of the heavier isotope carbon-13 to trace which metabolic pathways were most active in the sick or healthy mice. Within minutes, they could measure changes in the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13 in the carbon dioxide exhaled by the mice, says co-author Warren Porter, a UW-Madison professor of zoology.
One advantage of the approach is that it surveys the workings of the entire body with a single measure. In addition to simplifying diagnosis, it could also provide rapid feedback about the effectiveness of treatments.
“The pattern of these ratios in blood or breath is different for different diseases – for example cancer, diabetes, or obesity – which makes this applicable to a wide range of diseases,” explains Assadi-Porter.
The technology relies on the fact that the body uses different sources to produce energy under different conditions. “Your body changes its fuel source. When we’re healthy we use the food that we eat,” Porter says. “When we get sick, the immune system takes over the body and starts tearing apart proteins to make antibodies and use them as an energy source.”
That shift from sugars to proteins engages different biochemical pathways in the body, resulting in distinct changes in the carbon isotopes that show up in exhaled carbon dioxide. If detected quickly, these changes may signal the earliest stages of disease.
The researchers found similar patterns using two independent assays – nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy on blood serum and cavity ring-down spectroscopy on exhaled breath. The breath-based method is particularly exciting, they say, because it is non-invasive and even more sensitive than the blood-based assays.
In the mice, the techniques were sensitive enough to detect statistically significant differences between even very small populations of healthy and sick mice.
The current cavity ring-down spectroscopy analysis uses a machine about the size of a shoebox, but the researchers envision a small, hand-held “breathalyzer” that could easily be taken into rural or remote areas. They co-founded a company, Isomark, LLC, to develop the technology and its applications. They hope to explore the underlying biology of disease and better understand whether the distinctive biochemical changes they can observe are causative or side effects.
Funding for the new study came from the National Institutes of Health, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, Rodale Foundation, and the Farmers Advocating for Organics fund. The other co-authors are Julia Haviland, Marco Tonelli, and Dermot Haughey, all at UW-Madison.
The full article, which may require a subscription, is online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2011.12.010.
-- Jill Sakai, email@example.com, (608) 262-9772
Jill Sakai | Newswise Science News
New technique makes brain scans better
22.06.2017 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
New technology enables effective simultaneous testing for multiple blood-borne pathogens
13.06.2017 | Elsevier
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology