Scientists to test equipment critical to MURDOCK Study today

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 5, 2009

By Emily Ford
Editor’s note: News Molecules are designed to give readers occasional tidbits of information about the N.C. Research Campus.
KANNAPOLISóDuke University’s MURDOCK Study reaches a milestone today when scientists at the N.C. Research Campus test a state-of-the-art instrument that could play a role in finding the cause of chronic disease.
“This is significant,” said Dr. Arthur Moseley, who will oversee the start-up. “We are very excited about the fact that we will have a component of the lab up and running and starting to generate some data.”
Today, scientists from the Murdock Research Institute are running test samples through the first instrument in the proteomics core. Proteomics, or the study of proteins, is one of several specialities inside the Core Laboratory in Kannapolis.
The Meso Scale Discovery SECTOR Imager 6000, with a list price of $190,000, measures proteins in biological samples. Researchers believe proteins, crucial compounds within cells, hold a key to better understanding disease.
Moseley is part of Duke’s team working on the MURDOCK Study, a long-term medical research project that stands for Measurement to Understand Reclassification of Disease of Cabarrus/Kannapolis. The study is named for Research Campus founder David Murdock.
The new instrument gives researchers the ability to analyze more than 1,500 proteins from 384 samples in less than two minutes, a vast improvement over older equipment.
Their goal is to use the machine to identify protein biomarkers that could predict how patients will respond to a drug treatment or how a disease will progress in their body.
While this is the first proteomics machine to come online, more than $3 million in instrumentation awaits researchers in the proteomics core at the Research Campus.
But first, the campus needs more scientists.
The Murdock Research Institute has posted a dozen high-level jobs, including four in proteomics.
Ultimately, the MURDOCK Study will move from Duke’s Durham campus, where research has been underway for about a year, to Kannapolis, where scientists will have better access to instruments like the SECTOR Imager 6000.
The study is investigating four diseasesóhepatitis C, heart disease, arthritis and obesityóand soon will add cancer.
Hepatitis C researchers announced preliminary findings last month, and data from the osteoarthritis project “is looking extremely promising,” said Moseley, who also serves as the Murdock Research Institute’s interim director for proteomics.
Universities like Duke, as well as private companies, must pay to use the cutting-edge instruments at the Research Campus.