Upgraded instrument for analysis of proteins in clinical research


// ALF Funding to Proteomics // Identification, quantification and characterization of proteins in clinical material is an important part of research while trying to find new biomarkers and map the proteins involved in disease development. Often you want to do the findings in the early stages - and now the opportunities to do this are improved. ALF funding has recently been allocated to the Proteomics Core Facility (PCF) for the purchase of the Orbitrap Eclipse Tribrid Mass Spectrometer, which with better selectivity and sensitivity will provide researchers with even more high-quality data.

“One of the characteristics of the units within Core Facilities is our openness, and by placing a new analysis instrument for mass spectrometry at PCF, it will be available to all researchers, especially at the Sahlgrenska Academy and the Västra Götaland region,” said Carina Sihlbom, Head of unit at Proteomics Core Facility.

Elisabet Carlson, Head of Core Facilities, also emphasizes the importance of regional cooperation, and that the ALF funds are important for making the advanced equipment available for all:

“Through regional cooperation, we can maintain a high level of technical instruments as well as in the expertise and competence that we can offer. I am therefore glad to see continued investments in research infrastructure,” Elisabet said.

World-Class Research

Quantification of protein has been part of 40 percent of the studies conducted at the proteomics facility over the past three years. Therefore, Carina believes that the upgrade of the current version of the Orbitrap instrument will yield good results and be requested.

“In order to help drive research forward and continue to publish world-class research, with results in high-impact journals, it is of the outmost importance that we can offer the most sensitive and high-performing analysis instruments available,” Carina said.

Available 2022

The upgrade of the  mass spectrometer will among other things mean that low-expression proteins can be more easily identified. New mass filters will also provide better selectivity and sensitivity, which means that data matching can take place in real time during the analysis for increased dynamic range and accuracy.

“During the latter part of 2022, the instrument will be installed, and researchers will be able to register projects via the facility's website, after initial discussions with us about the number of samples and how the sample materials should be collected,” Carina said.

Ongoing projects

The ALF funding is intended for high-quality clinical research and education with a clear patient benefit and relevance to healthcare. Below are examples of ongoing projects at PCF, where protein analysis is central:

For relative protein quantification in samples extracted from tissue biopsies like kidney or heart, the instruments sensitivity and speed is directly related to the number of quantified proteins. As many proteins as possible needs to be detected to follow the pathway and timelines in a disease development.

For phosphorylated proteins, the localization of phosphorylation is related to the sensitivity of an instrument. Detection of phosphorylation provides direct insight into the molecular reactions that are significant in eg cancer and inflammation research. The research takes place both in clinic research and in model systems to test the response of treatment and make predictions for treatment.

For glycosylated proteins, their structure and interactions the selectivity with the new mass filters are essential. Clinical studies of glycoprotein have in the past year been highlighted in the media in relation with Covid-19, as glycoproteina are crucial for the binding between human cell protein and viruses. Several metabolic diseases are also due to problems with the glycosylation of proteins.


PCF consists of twelve employees with extensive experience in proteomics and  analytical chemistry in research projects at the facility and / or in industry. Our expertise also includes study design and sample preparation. We are involved in approximately 200 projects per year, and are part of the Swedish National Infrastructure for Biological Mass Spectrometry (BioMS), as well as SciLifeLab.