The robot, designed to do an extensive independent analysis of organic metabolites in blood via a two gas column chromatography technique known as GCGC-MS (Gas Chromatography/Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectroscopy), is being used to conduct a study on samples from Alzheimer’s patients.
The three year study is pretty huge and it is being done at the University of Manchester:
The robot, which operates independently in the lab, will be used to analyse hundreds of blood samples taken from volunteers with and without diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease in the first ever study focusing on metabolites using this technology…
The aim of this three-year study is to determine whether there are biological markers (clues) held in metabolites which signal the presence of Alzheimer’s disease in a patient and predict the effectiveness of medications to slow the anticipated decline. The study could lead to the development of a blood test for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Currently, diagnosis is through cognitive tests and further investigations such as brain scans. This process leads to delay in treatment and 100% diagnosis is only possible through post-mortem.
The study will use blood samples taken from volunteers across the Greater Manchester and Stockport area consisting of Alzheimer’s patients and age-match controls. In total 1000 volunteers will be recruited to the study.
A technique known as GCGC-MS, specially calibrated at Manchester University, will be used to measure accurately the concentration of thousands of the metabolites in the blood samples. This is the first study in the world to measure so many chemicals in the blood and to use them to improve diagnosis.
Professor Alistair Burns said: “Everyone knows someone or of someone who has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Its symptoms have devastating effects on the patients and their family. Current drug treatments offer benefit but none stop the inevitable decline in the ability to perform daily routines. There is a pressing need to find a simple and objective way, such as a blood test, of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and monitoring its progression, especially the effectiveness of treatments. By looking at so many chemicals simultaneously the chances of observing a true diagnostic marker for Alzheimer’s disease is very good…”
The results will be made available in a publicly accessible database for the public and researchers from around the world and will aid future Alzheimer’s research.
The press release…
Update: A spokesman for the University of Manchester informs Medgadget that the robot was built in-house, specifically for this project…