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NIH Gives Lawrence Livermore $3M for bioAMS Instrument

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health has provided the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory a $3 million grant for the purchase of a biomedical accelerator mass spectrometer, or bioAMS, the laboratory said earlier this week.

The instrument allows researchers to analyze biological samples in an accelerator without first converting the sample to graphite.

The bioAMS instrument will enable rapid and cheap biomedical human subject tracer studies and body burden assessment, "addressing important questions in nutrition, toxicology, pharmacology, drug development, and comparative medicine," the laboratory said in a statement.

Studies at Lawrence Livermore that the bioAMS system will support include those in cancer stem cells, the development of individualized patient therapies, and the testing of new therapeutics against infectious agents.

"AMS fills a special niche in the biomedical field because it can measure very low concentrations of drugs with extreme accuracy, and that's important for helping to understand how biology works," said Ken Turteltaub, principal investigator on the grant and leader of the laboratory's bioAMS efforts. AMS technology has not been fully used, however, due to "a variety of difficulties," such as the need for experts to use it, special chemistries to prepare samples for analysis, and long sample-prep time.

"This new technology really moves AMS to the next level," Turtletaub said.

The new instrument will be the first AMS system at the laboratory that will not be housed in its Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry. It is deliberately being housed in the lab's bioAMS experiment suite as part of an effort to move the technology from expert accelerator laboratories to more routine biomedical laboratory settings.

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore will develop and validate the instrument in order to move the technology for use in general clinical laboratories in five years, the lab said.

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