David R. Barnidge, Ph.D., is a mass spectrometrist specializing in the development of new ways to analyze antibodies, also called immunoglobulins. Dr. Barnidge and pathologist David L. Murray, M.D., Ph.D., invented a new methodology called monoclonal immunoglobulin Rapid Accurate Molecular Mass (miRAMM), used to diagnose patients with B cell disorders by using mass spectrometry to measure the molecular weight of the antibodies secreted by B cells. This technology provides clinicians with an individualized picture of each patient's immune system, allowing them to treat patients more effectively.
- Multiple myeloma. Dr. Barnidge uses mass spectrometers to identify and quantify monoclonal antibodies in patients with multiple myeloma. Cancerous B cells in patients with multiple myeloma secrete the exact same antibody into their bloodstream that a mass spectrometer is able to identify and quantify better than any other technique.
- Multiple sclerosis. Dr. Barnidge also uses mass spectrometers to identify and quantify monoclonal antibodies in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Patients with MS will often have many different monoclonal antibodies that are secreted from different B cells in their cerebral spinal fluid. The mass spectrometer is able to identify and quantify each of these disease-related monoclonal antibodies with superior sensitivity and specificity compared with current clinical methods.
- Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are used to treat many diseases, including multiple myeloma and MS. Mass spectrometers are capable of measuring a therapeutic mAb and the patient's own antibodies in a single assay. This unique feature of mass spectrometry provides clinicians with the ability to quantify the effectiveness of a therapeutic mAb on a specific population of B cells associated with a patient's disease.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Barnidge is currently using mass spectrometry to measure therapeutic mAbs in clinical trials. He is also using the methodology to help in the interpretation of difficult cases where current methods have provided inconclusive results. Dr. Barnidge is actively translating his findings to both research laboratories and clinical chemistry laboratories to advance the understanding of the immune system and to improve patient care.