The broad, long-term objective of this proposal is to enable a better understanding of the inorganic signatures of life and the fundamental interaction of metals in biology that underlie metal homeostasis and human diseases as well as improving metal-based cancer therapeutics and diagnostics. This will be accomplished via the acquisition of a new Ion Chromatography-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer (IC-ICP-MS). There is currently one, 7 year old ICP-MS system at Northwestern University whose detection limits are hindering advanced metallomics and bioinorganic research. Funds are requested for the purchase of an IC- ICP-MS that will play a vital role in supporting basic and preclinical research activities from multiple NIH-funded and Investigator-Initiated Projects at Northwestern University. As a shared resource, the proposed instrumentation will also support NIH-funded projects from other institutions especially regional partners such as the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The analytical capabilities offered by the new ICP-MS will enable measurements that are otherwise difficult or impossible to obtain using current instrumentation; increasing sensitivity and detection limits for most inorganic elements up to 100-fold. The seamless speciation and laser ablation capabilities of the proposed instrument will enable investigators to truly begin to map the metallome and advance understanding of the fundamental properties of metals in biology. IC- ICP-MS analysis will benefit current research projects in advanced molecular imaging, biomarker development, oocyte maturation, nanoparticle design, and clinical research. The availability of this system will also foster new collaborations and spur instrumentation and application development. To accommodate this instrument, the University has made concrete commitments in terms of financial support, analytical expertise, management, operational staff and infrastructure. The IC-ICP-MS will become an important component in the Quantitative Bio-element Imaging Core (QBIC) and the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute at Northwestern University. Overall, investigative approaches offered by the IC-ICP-MS system will enable ultra-trace, quantitative speciation and metal analysis that address the technological needs of the current user base and accelerate a wide range of biomedical research projects.
The requested IC-ICP-MS system will play a major role in basic and clinical research by enabling rapid metal content analysis in cells, proteins, and tissues. Analysis of endogenous metals will help elucidate the roles that metals play in diseases such as cancer, oncofertility, diabetes, autism, and Alzheimer's disease. Additionally, analysis of exogenous metals will lead to the development and refinement of new metal-based probes and therapeutics.