NMR for Epidemiological Screening
“Mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) play complementary roles in metabolomics analysis,” said Manfred Spraul, Ph.D., director of NMR applications, Bruker BioSpin. Bruker has expertise in analytical NMR applications for metabolomics profiling. The company has developed a suite of NMR-based products to support both food quality control and clinical applications.
“NMR has several advantages that position this technology for analysis of biological fluids,” continued Dr. Spraul. “NMR needs minimal sample preparation, and it is extremely reproducible and fully quantitative over the full dynamic range of concentrations.”
NMR reproducibility is what attracted the scientists to utilize it in large multinational phenome project studies. As long as the samples are collected under standard operating procedures and analyzed using the same magnetic field strength, the resulting data is readily comparable and exchangeable on a worldwide basis. Moreover, when a new pattern is found it can be compared with all previous data obtained under the same standards.
Dr. Spraul’s team is the key partner in a project to establish NMR-based screening of newborn babies at 12 hospitals in Turkey. First, the team built an NMR profile of a “normal” newborn, using over 1,000 urine samples. The model captures all possible individual differences within normal range, claimed Dr. Spraul. In an untargeted approach, each new sample is compared with this spectral fingerprint.
In targeted mode, 64 compounds indicative of inborn errors of metabolism are checked for deviations from the norm. Although rare, these deviations can be readily identified with high statistical probability even if previously unknown.
“We are interested in creating models for each day of the newborn development,” said Dr. Spraul. By matching samples with the model reference spectrum, physicians will be able to detect the first signs of latent hereditary metabolic errors, he explained.
Bruker also is a funding partner of the Imperial Clinical Phenome Centre, based at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. There, the NMR technology will be used to assist physicians by providing real-time data for the patients, especially in intensive care units.
NMR spectra could predict whether or not a patient is recovering, experiencing organ rejection, or responding to the medication. “This technology has matured and is reaching the point when it can be a real partner in the clinical decision-making process,” concluded Dr. Spraul.