NIH Proteomics Interest Group

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ProtIG is an NIH Special Interest Group (SIG) that organizes seminars and workshops in relevant areas of proteomics, including talks on separation and protein identification methods, determination of post-translational modifications, protein-protein interactions, and bioinformatics and data management. A monthly seminar series is usually held at 12 pm on the Second Thursday of each month (always check the Mtgs/Seminars button on this page for these and other PROTIG announced meetings). To receive email announcements of ProtIG events, join the listserv (Join the SIG button on this page)

March ProtIG Seminar
Please note the start time for the March 2023 ProtIG meeting is 2pm ET
Thursday, March 16th, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm ET
Perdita Barran, PhD, Professor
Perdita Barran, PhD, Professor
Michael Barber Centre for Collaborative Mass Spectrometry
Manchester Institute of Biotechnology
The University of Manchester

“Adventures with Mass Spectrometry and Joy and how we are finding biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease from sebum to enable diagnosis ”

Our research program uses mass spectrometry (MS) to find biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease to enable diagnosis [1-3]. We do this from endogenous compounds excreted with sebum and obtained from skin swabs. In lab, we can determine if an individual has PD with >95% accuracy [3]. Our unique research program has been initiated by Mrs. Joy Milne, a retired nurse from Perth who noticed a change in her husband's body odour 11 years before his clinical diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Joy noticed the same distinctive odour was associated with other PD sufferers and hence linked it to onset of the disease. We have also used metabolomics from sebum to reveal alterations in the regulation of lipid synthesis and the carnitine cycle as PD progresses [2]. Recently we demonstrated the equivalence of sebum to serum as a diagnostic biofluid [4]. Based on Joy's observation, with simple non-invasive sampling of skin from the upper back, we have developed a diagnostic platform that is able to classify PD from sebum samples with >95% accuracy. The focus of our work to date has been to detect and identify the compound(s) that encompass the unique odour of PD. We have now assessed the feasibility and quality of information provided by using sebum as a diagnostic biofluid via multiple mass spectrometry (MS) based analytical methods, and are now positioned to translate these methods, by incorporating clinical data to stratify PD diagnosis from prodromal to overt. This talk will discuss our methodological approach, recent findings and give a perspective on the use of sebum for non-invasive sampling.

References 1. Trivedi et al. (2019), “Discovery of volatile biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease from sebum”, ACS Central Sciences, 5 (4): 599-606
2. Sinclair et al. (2021), “Metabolomics of sebum reveals lipid dysregulation in Parkinson’s disease”, Nature Communications, 12, 1592
3. Sarkar et al. (2022), “Paperspray ionisation ion mobility mass spectrometry of sebum classifies biomarker classes for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease”, JACS AU 2, 9, 2013–2022
4. Spick et al. (2022), “An integrated analysis and comparison of serum, saliva and sebum for COVID-19 metabolomics”, Scientific reports, 12, 11867
5. Pereira et al. (2022), “Multiomics implicate gut microbiota in altered lipid and energy metabolism in Parkinson’s disease”, npj Parkinson’s disease, 8, 39

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This site was updated on March 16th, 2023. Please contact Renee Olano at olanol(at) with questions or suggestions.