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Fields & Applications Mass Spectrometry

Introducing “SynTOF” – and Its Potential Impact on Alzheimer’s

A recently developed technique, dubbed synaptometry by time-of-flight (SynTOF), combines flow cytometry with time-of-flight mass spectrometry, allowing scientists to examine tens of millions of individual human single-synapse events using 38 antibody probes (1). Specifically, the technique allowed Stanford University researchers to compare and contrast human brains without pathologic change or with pure Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or Lewy body disease (LBD).

By applying machine-learning approaches to the dataset, the technique not only confirmed pre-established differences, such as reduced caudate dopamine transporter in LBD and increased hippocampal pathologic tau in AD, but also offered new insights; for example, increased hippocampal CD47 and lowered DJI proteins in AD, and higher ApoE proteins in AD with dementia. 

Given that next-best alternatives for such analyses – namely, array tomography and conventional flow cytometry – hit a ceiling of one million single-synapse events, SynTOF represents “an unparalleled opportunity for multiplex analysis,” according to the researchers.

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  1. T Phongpreecha et al., Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abk0473.
About the Author
Margot Lespade

Associate Editor, The Analytical Scientist

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