Medical Devices and Healthcare IT

New Method Analyzes Hundreds of Blood Proteins at One Time

14 August 2018

Scientists from McGill University have developed new technology that streamlines lab analysis of proteins in a blood sample faster than ever before. The new method uses a quick, cost-effective tool that can be easily used in hospitals and research labs.

The microbeads detecting blood proteins. Source: McGill UniversityThe microbeads detecting blood proteins. Source: McGill University

Blood proteins contain important information about a person’s health. For example, proteins in the blood can indicate if chest pain is caused by cardiac health or cancer. While protein information is abundant and helpful, the methods to analyze proteins has remained pretty much unchanged in the last 50 years. Existing tests can only analyze a single protein at a time.

The newly developed method can analyze hundreds of proteins with a single blood sample. The newly improved method barcodes 500 micro-beads that have multicolor fluorescent dyes to detect protein markers in the blood from just one sample. A cytometer then counts the proteins that stick to the different colored beads.

This kind of analysis has existed for some time, but it has been limited because the interference between the multicolored dyes limits the generation of the right colors to attract the proteins.

The new algorithm allows different colors of microbeads to be generated, and its analysis remains accurate.

"Current technologies hold a major trade-off between the number of proteins that can be measured at once, and the cost and accuracy of a test", Ph.D. candidate Milad Dagher and one of the lead researchers, explains. "This means that large-scale studies, such as clinical trials, are underpowered because they tend to fall back on tried-and-true platforms with limited capabilities."

The researchers hope to further develop this method to make the analysis more accurate. They also want to focus on increasing the scale of protein analysis.

The paper on the new method was published in Nature Nanotechnology.

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