Targeted mass spectrometry-based platforms have become a valuable tool for the sensitive and specific detection of protein biomarkers in clinical and research settings. Traditionally, developing a targeted assay for peptide quantification has involved manually preselecting several fragment ions and establishing a limit of detection (LOD) and a lower limit of quantitation (LLOQ) for confident detection of the target. Established thresholds such as LOD and LLOQ, however, inherently sacrifice sensitivity to afford specificity. Here, we demonstrate that machine learning can be applied to qualitative PRM assays to discriminate positive from negative samples more effectively than a traditional approach utilizing conventional methods. To demonstrate the utility of this method, we trained an ensemble machine learning model using 282 SARS-CoV-2 positive and 994 SARS-CoV-2 negative nasopharyngeal swabs (NP swab) analyzed using a targeted PRM method. This model was then validated using an independent set of 200 positive and 150 negative samples and achieved a sensitivity of 92% relative to results obtained by RT-PCR, which was superior to a traditional approach that resulted in 86.5% sensitivity when analyzing the same data. These results demonstrate that machine learning can be applied to qualitative PRM assays and results in superior performance relative to traditional methods.
- antigen detection
- limit of detection (LOD)
- machine learning (ML)
- parallel reaction monitoring (PRM)
ASJC Scopus subject areas