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Posted: May 27, 2008
Thermo Fisher Scientific and George Mason University Partner in Groundbreaking Protein Biomarker Research Project
(Nanowerk News) Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. today announced an alliance between its Biomarker Research Initiatives in Mass Spectrometry (BRIMS) Center and George Mason University’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) to accelerate biomarker validation and forge new breakthroughs in early disease diagnosis. Biomarkers are biochemical features or facets that can signal the progression or risk of disease, as well as the potential effectiveness of certain treatments.
A key challenge in biomarker research has been independent validation of experimental results, critical to acceptance of findings across the research community. The alliance between Thermo Fisher and CAPMM will overcome this challenge by creating a unique "cross-validation" workflow between the BRIMS and the George Mason University laboratory to provide fast biomarker validation. Both labs will use identical Thermo Scientific Quantum™ Ultra triple quadrupole mass spectrometers to analyze assays. After a newly discovered biomarker has been validated in the CAPMM lab, it will be sent to the BRIMS lab in Boston for independent validation, increasing confidence in the results for the scientific community.
“This pioneering work holds promise to break down longstanding barriers in protein biomarker research, and we’re pleased that our technology and expertise are making it possible,” said Marc N. Casper, chief operating officer of Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Our central mission at the BRIMS Center is to enable and support innovative projects that pave new ground in science, and this partnership perfectly aligns with that goal.”
Drs. Lance Liotta, Emanuel Petricoin and Mark Ross will lead the project in the University’s unique laboratory, which is certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and outfitted with the industry-leading Thermo Scientific mass spectrometry technology. Working collaboratively, the research team will cull through cancer biomarker candidates and validate those with the greatest promise in a diagnostic setting.
“We believe that this project’s powerful combination of tools, talent and unique methods will lead to key advancements in protein biomarker research,” said Dr. Liotta, professor of life sciences at George Mason University and co-director of CAPMM. “Biomarker validation and verification are the chief bottlenecks in the entire research community. Our work with Thermo Fisher Scientific can enable the development of workflows and methods that will ease, if not possibly eliminate, this challenge all together.”
“We’re focused on developing a robust, reproducible protein biomarker analytical workflow that could shave years off the process of translating biomarkers into validated clinical diagnostic laboratory tests,” said Dr. Petricoin, a professor of life sciences and chair of the Department of Molecular and Microbiology at George Mason University. “As researchers discover and sequence more potential disease-specific biomarker candidates, we need tools and methods to enable easy, rapid verification and validation of these biomarkers. That is a major objective of this strategic partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific.”
George Mason University’s CAPMM CAP/CLIA-compliant laboratory and the team's access to samples and patients create heightened efficiency on the project. These two factors enable the research environment to function like a hospital diagnostics-type facility – one team of scientists is able to develop and optimize assays and workflows, while another performs validation and assesses clinical utility.
Doctors Petricoin and Liotta are innovators in the field of proteomics. Together they have authored more than 175 proteomic-related, peer-reviewed articles for publication and have developed a cadre of proteomic strategies and technologies that are now accepted methods for diagnosis and disease treatment. Dr. Ross, an experienced and well-known mass spectrometrist and analytical chemist, will oversee the George Mason University research.
The Thermo Fisher Scientific BRIMS Center, located in Cambridge, Mass., opened in 2004 with the mission to support the development of methodologies and applications for protein biomarker identification. Equipped with a complete portfolio of Thermo Scientific mass spectrometers and staffed with a team of scientists with expertise in mass spectrometry, protein techniques and informatics, the BRIMS Center also develops leading software tools for proteomic research.
For more information about Thermo Fisher Scientific’s extensive line of mass spectrometers, please visit www.thermo.com/ms.