USM and UNE Collaborate on Biological Sciences Research

Erika Diffin, a student in the Biology Masters degree program and her faculty advisor Dr. David Champlin, an Associate Professor of Biology, are preparing a manuscript describing their collaboration with University of New England (UNE) School of Pharmacy Professor John Schloss and Research Technician Lisa Harding. Their research focused on measuring very low concentrations of a steroid hormone in insect blood, ecdysteroid. Since ecdysteroid is a dominant regulatory hormone later in metamorphosis, the scientists wanted to determine whether it plays a role during the critical period at the start of metamorphosis.

USM graduate student Erika Diffin, together with Lisa Harding, established conditions using UNE’s Agilent 6460 LC-MS triple quadrupole system, which allowed them to detect less than 0.1 ng hormone /ml of blood. This is about fifty times more sensitive than the traditional radioimmunoassay. The new method also allowed each form of the hormone to be identified and quantified. Combined with their other experimental results, the scientists have concluded that ecdysteroid does not play a prominent role in initiating metamorphosis. The scientists plan to continue their collaboration because the variety of state-of-the-art instrumentation available at UNE’s School of Pharmacy at their Portland Campus is ideal for identifying the hormone that is responsible for initiating metamorphosis.