I'm excited, hopefully some of you other science geeks will find this cool too. If not, well this is a shameless brag post.
Powerful mass spectrometers used to be expensive to buy and expensive to operate. You'd spend a million dollars on a Fourier Transform unit that would take up half of a good sized lab; then you add in the cost of the liquid helium needed to operate and wow there goes your research budget right out the window. Great for the couple of big unversities that could afford it, hopelessly out of reach for someone looking to find a more useful application.
Now you can get something with amazing resolving power for a fraction of the price, and it sits on your lab bench. They've got applications already in the works (don't think anyone will be able to see anything but the abstract unfortunately ).
You grow your diseased tissue in one media with Lysine labelled with one with six 13C atoms and two 15N atoms, the healthy tissue in a culture with eight 2H atoms. The mass additions from those two are +8.0142 Da and +8.0502 Da, seriously that's small fraction of a mass of an electron. You then combine the samples, process them, and shoot them into the mass spectrometer. So many sources of error are removed because you can combine the samples at an early stage in the experiment.
Previous isotopic-tags like this had to have several daltons in mass difference for a readily available instrument to be able to resolve them. That distance meant signal loss as the total amount of material you could use was more or less constant, but that signal was spread out over several daltons, and beyond the isolation width for subsequent analysis. That's not a problem anymore, you can combine samples without signal loss during isolation, and still be able to tell how much signal is coming from which cell culture. What protein levels are up and down, what your potential disease biomarkers are, etc etc.
What makes it cooler is I'm going to be getting something, that sits on my desktop, that can resolve mass differences to a small fraction of a dalton. Now we have another very useful application for it. Freaking awesome.
Science I tell ya, science!