If I asked you to take a picture for me right now, you would probably grab your camera. Yet, what would you do if I wanted you to take a picture of the locations and amounts of chemicals somewhere? My name is Emily Sekera and I am a 5th year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry. Under the guidance of Dr. Troy Wood, I have learned to utilize a wide range of mass spectrometry techniques that can be applied to the study of diseases. In the case of this project, I can use mass spectrometry to create a chemical image of diseased or healthy tissue. Each observed pixel holds the information of a wide range of chemical species that lies within. Then, by combining all of the pixels in our image together, we can observe hundreds of stories unraveling, telling us what changes occur between a healthy and diseased state and where exactly those changes occur. Using techniques such as this one, we can study difficult mechanisms such as demyelination in multiple sclerosis to better understand the "who, what, and where" of occurring changes and how we can uses these answers to better treat the underlying disease.
They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but what if every pixel told its own story? Through the utilization of imaging mass spectrometry, a picture of tissue sections can be created in which each pixel shows the chemical details of the space it's within. The utilization of such a method allows for researchers to see not only changes in the quantity of substances which are observed in a diseased state of tissue, but to see where localization occurs and if it correlates with the location that a drug was administered. In this study, a primary model of demyelination in mouse spinal cords have been chosen to tell the story of which lipids change in diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS). In preliminary studies, we have been able to detect molecular localizations within specific portions of the spinal cord that correlate to sites of injury and the process of remyelination.
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