We have a new blog series that features each of our lab partners so that you can get to know them better! Next up is SpectraCell Laboratories. We had a great conversation with Patti Larson, Business Development, to learn more about SpectraCell, how they got started, and the technology behind their tests.
Introducing SpectraCell Laboratories!
Hi Patti! I am excited to chat with you and learn more about SpectraCell. When was the lab founded and how?
We were founded 29 years ago - in 1993.
Wow, that is quite a long time ago. You must be one of the older labs around. How did the company get started?
Dr. Shive, a researcher and biochemist in the field of nutrition at the University of Texas, realized that serum tests for many vitamins and minerals did not adequately reflect the biological efficacy or functionality of these nutrients within the body. In an effort to overcome this deficit, Dr. Shive invented a test that could reveal the function, not just the level, of a specific nutrient within human cells. Thus, our flagship Functional Intracellular Analysis - now known as the MicroNutrient Test (MNT) was born. Why does this matter? Strong evidence suggests that the majority of chronic disease is attributable in large part to intracellular deficiencies in micronutrients. In 1993, SpectraCell was founded with the vision of pioneering a new paradigm in medical practice, one of truly personalized healthcare.
What is the main focus at SpectraCell?
Intracellular Micronutrient Testing.
There are two key principles on which the SpectraCell Micronutrient Test is based:
- Micronutrient deficiencies contribute to disease
- Targeted repletion is the solution to restore and maintain good health.
The SpectraCell MNT measures 31 specific micronutrients—vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and metabolites—and how they affect cellular function in a person as well as immune response function.
Very cool. What technology do you use at your lab to do this?
We use a Lymphocyte Proliferation Assay. Simply put, we assess the performance of white blood cells, which are the workhorses of the immune system. That’s right, we assess the strength and adaptability of a person’s immune system in addition to nutritional deficiencies.
If someone is deficient in a particular nutrient, the MNT will uncover this deficiency so that it can be effectively treated, thus facilitating real prevention. Not only will correcting intracellular deficiencies slow aging and degenerative disease progression, but it can also prevent as well as repair cellular dysfunction, and by extension disease.
This is how it works:
1. Obtain a sample of the patient’s blood
2. Physically remove (isolate) the lymphocytes from the blood
3. Introduce the lymphocytes to a nutritionally perfect environment that is designed to support their growth
4. Add a chemical that tricks the lymphocytes into thinking they need to ramp up
5. Measure how well they respond (how fast they can grow)
By measuring the nutrient deprived cell growth in comparison to a ‘perfect’ environment that contains all the nutrients required for growth, the nutritional status of a person can be functionally determined based on their unique biochemistry.
Very cool - I love the way you lay out the process for us. It is much easier to understand this way! What are the main conditions practitioners are using your labs to diagnose and treat?
It varies greatly, but mainly: Fatigue, Weight Management, Sports Medicine, Sleep, Viral Infection, Inflammation, Anxiety. Disease can manifest in many ways and many people don’t realize that deficiencies can exist for months – or worse, years – before overt symptoms appear. By correcting deficiencies and monitoring nutrients, health and vibrancy can be obtainable for many people.
What is your favorite part about being in this industry?
People are amazed when they discover a functional medicine approach and specialty lab results. I love seeing how our labs can help people figure out what is really going on inside them, and what is behind their symptoms.
What is your future vision for functional medicine lab work?
Personalized medicine! Give patients the tools to improve and maintain health.
What are you working on right now as a lab? What do practitioners have to look forward to?
We're really focusing on ease of use with ordering, shorter turn around times, advanced eduction in immune response for practitioner.
That is all great stuff for practitioners and patients! Anything else interesting, funny, or noteworthy you’d like practitioners to know about your lab?
2019 was a building year for us (as they say in sports). Client experience in 2020 and beyond will be exceptional. Immune response is particularly relevant now and the MNT, at it's core, is a measurement of lymphocyte immune response, which is great for us. I really feel we offer a tool and a piece of the puzzle for reaching optimal health.
Thanks for the insights! Agreed - I think everything within the Functional Medicine field is an incredible way for people to reach their true health potential.
Here are the 3 most commonly ordered tests from SpectraCell:
1. Micronutrient Test (MNT) ACD Tubes Lymphocyte Proliferation Assay with Mitogen stimulation
2. LipoProteint Particle Profile (LPP) - 1 Spun SST - Proprietary particle fractionation
3. Telomere - 1 sodium citrate blue top - PCR