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JEOL AccuTOF-DART Mass Spectrometer Used in Georgia Institute of Technology’s Newly-Developed Ovarian Cancer Test


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Called the silent killer, ovarian cancer is one of the most insidious and hardest to detect diseases.  It is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and, because it presents no obvious symptoms, it is often detected too late. 

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology reported last week that a new test for ovarian cancer was demonstrated to be 99% to 100% accurate over 100 patient samples examined in initial trials.  The test utilizes a new diagnostic technique involving mass spectrometry of a single drop of blood serum. 

The mass spectrometer used for this groundbreaking test is the AccuTOF™-DART® (JEOL USA Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts).  With the introduction of the JEOL AccuTOF-DART in 2005, the company revolutionized mass spectrometry with the ability to instantly analyze virtually anything for its chemical composition with little or no sample preparation in most cases.
 
For the ovarian cancer test in development, Dr. Facundo Fernandez, Assoc. Professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and coworkers at Georgia Institute of Technology, analyzed a sample from a single drop of blood serum from each test subject by using the hot helium plasma created by the DART ion source.  The mass spectrometer then instantly analyzed the relative abundance of metabolites, or small molecules in the serum.  Specially developed techniques were used to sort sets of metabolites found in cancerous plasma from those found in healthy samples.  The metabolic changes were mapped and proved to be 99% to 100% accurate in distinguishing sera from women with ovarian cancer from normal controls without registering a single false positive or false negative.

The group is currently in the midst of conducting the next set of assays, this time with 500 patients.

Meanwhile as test preparations proceed at Georgia Tech’s Ovarian Cancer Institute, Fernandez said, "The caveat is we don't currently have 500 patients with the same type of ovarian cancer, so we're going to look at other types of ovarian cancer. It's possible that there are also signatures for other cancers, not just ovarian, so we're also going to be using the same approach to look at other types of cancers. We'll be working with collaborators in Atlanta and elsewhere."

If further testing confirms the ability to accurately detect ovarian cancer by analyzing metabolites in the serum of women, doctors will be able detect the disease early and save many lives.

“This is the most accurate diagnostic test for ovarian cancer thus far reported. We are currently expanding the number of samples examined in order to demonstrate the robustness of the test prior to applying for FDA approval for clinical use,” the website for the Ovarian Cancer Institute states. 

The results can be found online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention Research in the paper entitled Rapid Mass Spectrometric Metabolic Profiling of Blood Sera Detects Ovarian Cancer with High Accuracy.

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