The journey of a mito researcher: Pioneering a new diagnostic technique

Associate Professor David Stroud from the Bio21 Molecular Science & Biotechnology Institute and the University of Melbourne was awarded a Mito Foundation Incubator Grant in 2015 to establish a new diagnostic technique called quantitative proteomics. This began a transformational journey in mito research.

Quantitative proteomics is a tool that has the potential to drastically improve mito diagnostic rates from around 50% toward 70%. Proteomics can be used to diagnose mito patients who are still living without a diagnosis after traditional methods failed to provide an answer.

A Prof David Stroud

Associate Professor David Stroud

The success of the preliminary data generated from Mito Foundation’s initial grant of $25,000 helped A/Prof Stroud to secure a further $4.6M from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to continue his research. Now, proteomics is gaining traction for use in mitochondrial research and A/Prof Stroud is the leading Australian expert in this field.

Since 2015, the foundation has supported an additional six research grants totalling over $650,000 focused on this emerging technology. One of the grants supported the purchase of an essential piece of equipment called a mass spectrometer. Four were awarded to PhD students in A/Prof Stroud’s lab, who use this equipment daily.

Quantitative proteomics has led to at least 15 research diagnoses. Currently it is only available for research use. However, work is underway with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Victorian Clinical Genetic Services to validate this tool in the clinical context. This will help bring this technology a step closer to the Australian public. Mito Foundation is proud to have supported the eight-year research journey to make this technique widely available to patients in Australian clinical settings.

“Our aim is to establish proteomics as a clinical test and acquire accreditation by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) and Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) as a first step into commercialising our test in a not-for-profit manner."  A/Prof David Stroud, Bio21 Institute and the University of Melbourne.