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Fields & Applications Mass Spectrometry, Proteomics, Metabolomics & Lipidomics

March of Progress

45 years ago, when I was a master’s student, schistosomiasis was detected by immunodiagnosis: a patient’s antibody to the parasite was detected on frozen sections using a second, fluorescently-labeled antibody. Fluorescence rapidly faded and quantitation was based on brightness from – to +++, which was open to personal interpretation. I aimed to develop quantitative assays using “purified” antigens and, after a few years’ work, Bas Ploem and I implemented assays based on schistosome protein antigens coupled to agarose beads – the DASS system. A variation on this theme, this time in collaboration with Han Streefkerk, was our quantitative immunoperoxidase assay, marking the arrival of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). The perceived impact of these assays was not too high; in 1975, at a presentation that I gave on ELISA, a famous malariologist remarked, “Remember young man: her first name was Eliza, but her family name was Doolittle.” So much for the rapid acceptance of novel technologies…

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About the Author

André Deelder

André Deelder is head of the Center for Proteomics and Metabolomics at the Leiden University Medical Center. He obtained his masters and PhD from Leiden University in the early 1970s and in 1985 was appointed a full professor. “My research has focused on the immunology, epidemiology, and glycobiology of schistosomiasis, and on structural and functional studies of parasite glycoconjugates”. During these studies he pioneered the development of anti-glycan monoclonal antibody panels for detection of schistosome circulating antigens. “I set up a biomolecular mass spectrometry group with an infrastructure that is – in the field of clinical proteomics and metabolomics – unique for The Netherlands in both size and scope.” The group has now evolved into the Center for Proteomics and Metabolomics.

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