A way of detecting the density of proteins in the blood, called “magnetic levitation” or MagLev, may aid in more quickly diagnosing chronic diseases, including the particular type of multiple sclerosis suspected in a person, the scientists who developed this method report.
Plasma, the liquid component of blood, is composed of various proteins with important roles in the body. Fluctuations in the levels of these proteins are associated with different diseases.
For this reason, being able to precisely quantify the density of blood proteins can have important ramifications, but reliable methods have eluded scientists.
A team with the Precision Health Program at Michigan State University (MSU) now report developing, and having successfully tested what they call the MagLev method, and publishing two studies show how MagLev can be used on plasma.
“When we put something in liquid, it separates into sediment by weight,” Morteza Mahmoudi, PhD, an assistant professor at MSU, said in a press release. “But another force — the magnetic force — can cancel out weight and levitate the proteins. This permits us to much more precisely define the density of proteins in solution.”
MagLev can separate various types of proteins in solution according to their relative densities, instead of weight.
In the first study, titled “Magnetically Levitated Plasma Proteins” and published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, Mahmoudi’s team applied MagLev to a small tube containing magnetic nanoparticles and plasma proteins. Over the course of three hours, researchers noticed the appearance of several distinct bands representing different types of proteins.
“The proteins created specific shapes when they were levitated,” Mahmoudi said. “It looks like a ‘smiley face’ of layers.”
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