Malvern, UK, 25th June 2024 / Sciad Newswire / Malvern Panalytical / A comprehensive study is currently underway to clarify the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) and four toxic elements: lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. These elements, often encountered by humans and animals worldwide without their knowledge, may hold crucial insights into cognitive decline.  

The study, led by Aaron Specht, Assistant Professor in the School of Health Sciences at Purdue University, Indiana, USA, aims to uncover the intricate connections between exposure to these toxic substances and the progression of cognitive impairment over time. This new study is one of the largest, most representative, and most racially diverse studies investigating the impact of toxic metal exposure on AD/ADRD in humans to date.  

Alzheimer’s disease: a growing public health burden 

AD/ADRD pose a significant public health challenge, with devastating effects on individuals, families and communities. In 2020, as many as 5.8 million individuals aged 65 or older in the US were living with AD/ADRD. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to 13.8 million.1  

Specht commented, “My ambition is to increase awareness of the dangers of exposure to toxic elements to help inform future strategies for prevention and intervention.” 

Transforming lives with a fresh approach to toxic metals analysis 

This study provides an innovative approach to the measurement of metals and metalloids in the body.  

The current gold standard for blood metals measurement is inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). While this technology is effective, it has several drawbacks. The equipment is large, heavy and expensive to purchase and run, and requires specialized staff for operation and data analysis. Most analyses require at least a milliliter of blood for reliable testing, which requires trained phlebotomists and can lead to lower patient compliance as well as sample storage and transport challenges. The greatest disadvantage is that this type of analysis compromises the integrity of the sample during the testing process, in most cases destroying it completely. 

To overcome these problems, Specht and his team are using Malvern Panalytical’s Epsilon 4 energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) systems and cutting-edge methods to measure exposure to toxic metals in innovative and minimally invasive ways. Using benchtop instruments, they can analyze dried blood spot samples collected on filter paper without destroying them.  

Aaron Specht and his colleague, Alison Roth, analyze toxic elements in dried blood spot samples using benchtop EDXRF systems.  

The study utilizes dried capillary blood spots collected from 15,000 individuals in the US as part of the nationwide health and retirement cohort study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. While the blood spots Specht and his team are testing were originally collected to map changes in the cohort’s DNA, the donors gave their consent for the samples to be used more broadly. 

“Researchers pay millions of dollars to collect biological tissues. Using this process, we can get readings from those samples without destroying them, which means they can be reused for future studies. That’s incredibly powerful!” commented Specht. 

Malvern Panalytical’s Epsilon 4 EDXRF benchtop instruments enable Specht to analyze dried blood spot samples without destroying them. 

EDXRF has several other advantages. Finger-prick blood spots can be collected quickly, simply and non-invasively on a filter paper, enabling better compliance, easier shipment and storage. Its ease of use, relatively low cost, and ability to analyze multiple samples simultaneously also make EDXRF a promising tool for broader research applications in environmental health. A recent comparison study has shown alignment between data from venous blood samples analyzed with ICP-MS and the dried blood spot samples measured using EDXRF.

Finger-prick blood spots can be collected quickly, simply and non-invasively on a filter paper, without the need for trained phlebotomists.

Paving the way for a toxic metal-free future  

By improving our understanding of the long-term impacts of toxic metal exposure, this research aims to improve future prevention strategies.The technology utilized in this study offers a simple, compact, and cost-effective solution for elemental detection in biological samples, with implications for expanded testing worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries currently lacking elemental exposure surveillance programs.  

“With XRF, we can easily identify sources of exposure and the communities being affected so action can be taken. And our hope is that by reducing the sources, we’ll eventually reach a point where our children aren’t exposed to these dangers anymore,” commented Specht. 

Martin Langley, Sector Director for Pharmaceuticals & Food at Malvern Panalytical, added, “Malvern Panalytical is committed to partnering with our customers, helping them achieve breakthroughs and develop innovative applications for our technologies. This research is particularly exciting as it has wide-ranging potential for the future monitoring of toxic element exposure, ultimately helping make our world cleaner, healthier and more productive.”  

Watch our video to find out more. 

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Malvern Panalytical 
Lisa Newey-Keane
E: corporatecommunications@malvernpanalytical.com

Sciad Communications, Media Relations  
Maria Patey / Sophie Protheroe 
E: malvern.panalytical@sciad.com  
T: +44 (0)20 3405 7892  

Notes for Editors

Notes for Editors 

About Malvern Panalytical

Malvern Panalytical is a global leader in the analytics of material and life sciences. We unleash the power of small things to make big things happen for our customers. Our vision is to make the world cleaner, healthier, and more productive. We work with our customers to achieve their goals through the power of precision measurements, backed by our expertise, trusted data, and insights. As partners in discovery, we collaborate every day with our customers and with each other to discover new possibilities and achieve breakthroughs. We’re committed to Net Zero in our own operations by 2030 and in our total value chain by 2040. With over 2300 employees, we serve the world, and we are part of Spectris plc, the world-leading precision measurement group.

Malvern Panalytical. We’re BIG on small™ 

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution demonstrating excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top four in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, including nearly 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 13 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap — including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, Purdue Computes and the One Health initiative — at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives  

References

  1. 2020 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 2020;16(3):391-460.
  2. Specht AJ, Obrycki JF, Mazumdar M, Weisskopf MG. Feasibility of Lead Exposure Assessment in Blood Spots using Energy-Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence. Environ Sci Technol. 2021 Apr 20;55(8):5050-5055. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.0c06622. Epub 2021 Mar 24. PMID: 33759507; PMCID: PMC10615324. 
Malvern Panalytical

Malvern Panalytical

Malvern Panalytical is a global leader in the analytics of material and life sciences. We unleash the power of small things to make big things happen for our customers. Our vision is to make the world cleaner, healthier, and more productive. We work with our customers to achieve their goals through the power of precision measurements, backed by our expertise, trusted data, and insights. As partners in discovery, we collaborate every day with our customers and with each other to discover new possibilities and achieve breakthroughs. We’re committed to Net Zero in our own operations by 2030 and in our total value chain by 2040. With over 2300 employees, we serve the world, and we are part of Spectris plc, the world-leading precision measurement group. Malvern Panalytical. We’re BIG on small™

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