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Mass spectrometry

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.

Mass spectrometer: © Wolfgang Filser / TUM

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.

Further information

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.

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus, allergies and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,500 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 19 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members. 

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is one of Europe’s leading research universities, with around 550 professors, 41,000 students, and 10,000 academic and non-academic staff. Its focus areas are the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences and medicine, combined with economic and social sciences. TUM acts as an entrepreneurial university that promotes talents and creates value for society. In that it profits from having strong partners in science and industry. It is represented worldwide with the TUM Asia campus in Singapore as well as offices in Beijing, Brussels, Cairo, Mumbai, San Francisco, and São Paulo. Nobel Prize winners and inventors such as Rudolf Diesel, Carl von Linde, and Rudolf Mößbauer have done research at TUM. In 2006 and 2012 it won recognition as a German "Excellence University." In international rankings, TUM regularly places among the best universities in Germany.

As one of Europe's leading research universities, LMU Munich is committed to the highest international standards of excellence in research and teaching. Building on its 500-year-tradition of scholarship, LMU covers a broad spectrum of disciplines, ranging from the humanities and cultural studies through law, economics and social studies to medicine and the sciences. 15 percent of LMU‘s 50,000 students come from abroad, originating from 130 countries worldwide. The know-how and creativity of LMU's academics form the foundation of the University's outstanding research record. This is also reflected in LMU‘s designation of as a "university of excellence" in the context of the Excellence Initiative, a nationwide competition to promote top-level university research.