March 2015

A present for the Neurometabolic UnitOroborus-Oxygraph1

Early in 2015 the Neurometabolic Unit at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) took delivery of an Oroborus Oxygraph K2 instrument - purchased with funds from UCLH Charity. The K2 is the world's most powerful high resolution respirometer for cellular and mitochondrial diagnostic and research studies.

The instrument facilitates investigations using isolated mitochondria from human tissue biopsies, the use of cultured cells such as neurons, astroytes and myoctes, as well as whole tissue homogenates and permeabilized cells or biopsies. In addition to measuring tissue oxygen utilization under a variety of conditions, the equipment allows the simultaneous measurement of a range of other important biological parameters. These include assessment of the investigated sample using fluorometry to assess tissue redox state, reactive oxygen species (free radicals), nitric oxide and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production - the universal energy currency of the cell.

Oroborus-Oxygraph2The Neurometabolic Unit has established itself as the unique pre-eminent laboratory in the United Kingdom for the investigation of many neurodegenerative, neurotransmitter, and muscle disorders. The unit is accredited by the UK Supra Regional Assay Service as well as the Clinical Pathology Accreditation service. In addition the Unit is part funded directly by the Department of Health and together with the MRC Muscular service at Queen Square and colleagues in Newcastle and Oxford provides a specialist mitochondrial service nationwide as well as internationally. Since the Units establishment a little over ten years ago the Unit has published over 200 peer reviewed papers upon neurometabolic disease including the description of several new diseases and treatment paradigms.

Dr Iain Hargreaves, Principal Clinical Scientist, reports that “this equipment will allow the Unit to fully investigate these cruel and devastating diseases. The instrument compliments the other techniques we have available including spectroscopic enzymology, Blue Native gel protein electrophoresis, high performance liquid chromatography of tissue metabolites and ion exchange amino acid analysis and provides for an enviable and complete diagnostic and research armamentarium.

"In summary, this equipment will allow us to diagnose patients with some mitochondrial diseases in whom this would not previously have been possible.  Furthermore, the research opportunities that this equipment delivers are immense as it provides us with a very real possibility for identifying new disease mechanisms that could lead to new treatment opportunities being developed."