Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Measuring the faint expression of a low-level protein in a complex biological system is a bit like playing Where's Waldo in a moving picture with tens of thousands of extras. Without technology that can process the system quickly, accurately, and repeatedly, there's no telling how long each investigation will take.

Scientists at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Wash., report they have an instrument that can do the job. Their protein mass spectrometer (PROMS) is the first high-throughput MS built expressly for proteomics. Richard D. Smith and his colleagues fashioned the prototype out of a 9.4-tesla Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) MS manufactured by Bruker Daltonics in Billerica, Mass.

As much as 100 times more sensitive than other methods for identifying proteins, PROMS can analyze results 10 to 100 times faster than a tandem MS, according...

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