CLINSPECT-M: New Clinical Mass Spectrometry Center for Molecular Brain Research
In a joint large-scale project, Munich scientists from proteomics, computer science and medicine investigate the causes of disorders of the central nervous system, how they can be diagnosed and how treatment response can be monitored. To this end, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) provides funding of 6 million euros to set up a clinical mass spectrometry centre in Munich (CLINSPECT-M) for an initial period of three years.
Goal of the project is to better diagnose severe neurological disorders, to understand their molecular causes and to monitor the course of therapy. High-performance mass spectrometry should make a decisive contribution to this. Mass spectrometry permits the simultaneous and quantitative determination of minute quantities of thousands of biomolecules from tissues or body fluids. Such molecular profiles for proteins will now be brought into clinical use for the first time.
New insights into the diagnosis and monitoring of disease
Munich is one of Germany's leading centers of neuroscience. The scientists involved in the new consortium intend to demonstrate that mass spectrometric protein analysis is suitable for the detection of clinically usable biomarkers.
Call for Helmholtz Zentrum München
Next to TUM as the main coordinator and its University Hospital ‘rechts der Isar’, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) with its University Hospital and the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Helmholtz Zentrum München is also part of the project. Helmholtz Zentrum München will develop and optimize the complex processes of sample processing and measurement as well as novel methods for mass spectrometric data analysis. In addition, local and national interlaboratory comparisons for CLINSPECT-M will be coordinated at Helmholtz Zentrum München.
Everything revolves around the brain
The CLINSPECT-M network covers four major areas of application in medicine:
- Multiple sclerosis: protein profiles of the cerebrospinal fluid of 4,000 patients should help physicians to find disease-specific fingerprints that can be used in clinical diagnosis.
- Alzheimer's disease: clinical studies involving hundreds of patients will be used to find biomarkers that indicate whether a drug is effective or not.
- Stroke: the examination of thousands of patient samples will identify proteins that indicate brain damage caused by a stroke and distinguish stroke from other causes.
- Brain tumors: hundreds of cancer patients are examined with the aim of finding molecular targets for personalized therapy decisions.
With its initiative "Research Nodes for Mass Spectrometry in Systems Medicine", the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) supports the implementation of the latest technologies in medical practice. In a highly competitive procedure, four consortia from Munich, Berlin, Heidelberg and Mainz were selected from around 30 applicants. In addition to BMBF funding, the project also receives financial support from the Free State of Bavaria, TUM and LMU.