Researchers develop a way to use mass spectrometry to measure proteins in a blood sample, which may help determine severity of sepsis and organ damage.

Sepsis is a very complicated and precarious condition. Research groups in Lund and Zurich have now developed a way to use mass spectrometry to measure hundreds of proteins in a single blood sample. With the help of protein patterns it is then possible to determine the severity of the condition and which organs have been damaged. The method is now presented in an article in Nature Communications.

“We use the blood as a mirror reflecting what happens in the body,” says Johan Malmström. He is a biomedical scientist, while his brother and fellow researcher Erik, lead author of the article, is a medical intern. Both are affiliated with Lund University. The third brother Lars works in bioinformatics at the University of Zurich. The team has been able to map the majority of all proteins that can be found in vital organs such as the heart, lung, liver, spleen and blood vessels, and listed which proteins are specific to each specific organ.

“If you see in a blood sample that the amount of proteins from a specific organ increases, it indicates damage to this organ. The method provides an understanding of the molecular events that take place during the course of a disease, and the possibility, using the same analysis, to study how different organs are affected,” explains Erik Malmström.

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