MAR 22, 2020 7:48 AM PDT

What is "Shotgun ion mobility mass spectrometry sequencing"?

Research published recently in Nature Communications highlights a new method of mapping an essential family of polysaccharides called GAGs (glycosaminoglycans). GAGs are critical to regulating many biological functions such as inflammation, neurodegeneration and tumor metastasis. One common type of GAG is called heparin and is currently used in clinical settings in an anticoagulant drug. Yet, aside from heparin, to date GAGs have been difficult to understand and only several structures have been accurately mapped.

Now the study from the Danish National Research Foundation Centre for Glycomics at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Copenhagen, offers new insight on GAG mapping methods.

Photo: Pixabay

"Determining the structures is a key question in the research about sugars. If we know the structure, we can determine what the cues are for specific biological functions and consider potential ways to exploit this in the development of therapeutics. This is hugely important and clinically relevant, as shown by the widely used anti-coagulant heparins, and the potential application of new heparin-based drugs for multiple diseases in the future," says the corresponding author, Dr. Rebecca Louise Miller, who is an Assistant Professor at the Copenhagen Center for Glycomics.

The method that Dr. Miller and her team have developed is called "Shotgun ion mobility mass spectrometry sequencing" or SIMMS2. It’s a complicated name and an even more complicated process akin to breaking sugar structures into small puzzle pieces in order to identify their genetic fingerprints and compare them to know existing structures. Through this process, they are able to sequence larger GAG structures.

"The instrumentation behind this new method was invented by the company Waters Ltd in 2006 and is available to many pharmaceutical companies and researchers. This means that the method could be easily implemented and widely used for drug discovery by many research groups in a short period of time," says co-author Professor Jeremy Turnbull, University of Liverpool and Copenhagen Center for Glycomics.

The researchers plan to continue their investigations with GAGs, SIMMS2, and GAGOme (another method they developed) in hopes of improving the therapeutic effects of heparins in cancer and neurogenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.

Sources: Nature Communications, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUN 11, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Bad Fat in the Tumor Microenvironment May Disrupt Killer T Cells
JUN 11, 2021
Bad Fat in the Tumor Microenvironment May Disrupt Killer T Cells
The immune system can detect and destroy pathogenic and cancerous cells, but sometimes those dangerous cells can evade t ...
JUN 14, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Can An Omega-3 Fatty Acid Destroy Tumors?
JUN 14, 2021
Can An Omega-3 Fatty Acid Destroy Tumors?
The body needs fatty acts for a variety of functions, and the health benefits of taking fatty acid supplements have long ...
JUL 30, 2021
Cancer
Obesity Reduces Mortality in Advanced Prostate Cancer
JUL 30, 2021
Obesity Reduces Mortality in Advanced Prostate Cancer
Obese patients with an advanced form of prostate cancer survive longer than their slimmer counterparts, according to res ...
AUG 18, 2021
Technology
Tracking System Maps How Cancer Cells Evolve, Providing New Treatment Insights
AUG 18, 2021
Tracking System Maps How Cancer Cells Evolve, Providing New Treatment Insights
All cells in a tumor share some genetic similarities, but also have key differences, often hindering effective treatment ...
SEP 16, 2021
Cancer
Inspiring Hope during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
SEP 16, 2021
Inspiring Hope during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Childhood cancers, also known as pediatric cancers, are diagnosed in patients up to 14 years old.  Estimates for 20 ...
SEP 28, 2021
Immunology
Cell Therapy Scrubs Tumors, Spares Transplanted Organs
SEP 28, 2021
Cell Therapy Scrubs Tumors, Spares Transplanted Organs
Hepatitis B infections have created a ‘silent epidemic’—infected people don’t display any sympto ...
Loading Comments...