Monthly Archives: July 2016

Is Your New MS Arriving Soon? Do You Know Where You’ll Put It?

waitingIt’s a common story we hear: You submit the budget request, complete with justification, and then the waiting begins. Days, months, maybe even years go by until suddenly your new mass spec finally gets approved. Of course, once it’s in the budget, you’d better order it right away. After all, the wait has been long enough, or even worse, someone else could scream louder and make the money disappear…

This story illustrates the fact that there are really three phases when it comes to the purchase of major lab instrumentation for mass spectrometry. There’s the funding and the purchasing just described, and then there’s the delivery—and the time between each step. If you’re focused on your research, it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening with funding and even the ordering process, because the mass spec isn’t right in front of you, demanding your attention.

Funding Future Mass Spectrometry Research

Let’s talk about each of these stages, and the importance of thinking through the entire process so that you have a functioning mass spectrometry lab at the end. When you first put through your request for funding, make sure to think not just about the MS instrument itself. This is obvious, but worth remembering—that instrument won’t work very well if it’s sitting on the floor of your lab. So be sure your funding request includes appropriate, dedicated lab furniture so that your mass spec will function efficiently and can be accessed easily by lab techs and researchers.

The funding stage is also the right time to look at the layout of your lab. Where will you put that new mass spec? What might need to be moved in order to make room for it? If it’s replacing an older, more limited MS model, will you want to keep that old machine on hand in case of emergencies? If so, consider ordering dedicated lab furniture with strong casters, so that you can store the older machine in a closet, out of the way, and only wheel it into your lab when it’s needed.

Ordering Your Mass Spectrometer

Once you’ve requested the funding, we expect you’ll focus on your research until you hear back from the budgeting folks. Time will pass, and things will happen, causing large and small changes in your lab. You might get another client or research project with different needs, and rearrange everything to meet that new workflow. Or cutbacks might mean you have to downsize the lab footprint and cram more into your current lab space.

Then you learn that you’ve finally got the green light on funding, and you immediately rush to order the MS before anything gets in your way. That’s great—but don’t forget to consider the changes that have happened in your lab since your funding request and detailed justification. Will the specific MS you requested still fit where you had proposed it to go? Will it meet all your needs, or have those changed? Most mass spectrometry manufacturers provide pre-installation manuals that can help you plan carefully and set aside the right space for your new acquisition.

Timing Delivery of Your Dedicated Lab Furniture

And when you’re purchasing your new MS, don’t forget to order its dedicated lab furniture at the same time. Like that old adage about not putting the cart before the horse, you need your lab bench in place before you can install your MS on top of it. You also need to make sure that your lab bench will be the right size and shape to accommodate the specific mass spec that you have ordered.

We get a lot of calls that go something like, “We’ve got a new mass spec arriving next week. Can you have an MS Bench delivered by then?” That answer is “Yes, but it’s going to cost you.” You see, our dedicated lab furniture is crafted in France and shipped here to the US or Canada. We can get one of our standard dedicated lab furniture models delivered to you in a week, but that means shipping it overseas by air, which can get rather expensive.

The turnaround time for ordering one of our standard pieces of dedicated lab furniture is two to three weeks, but if your MS model requires some lab bench customization, it can take as long as eight weeks to get you what you need. This is why we always recommend thinking through your MS installation at each stage of the process and asking yourself what else you need to make everything work smoothly.

To learn more about the standard and custom features we offer on our MS dedicated lab furniture, contact us today.

Keep Your Mass Spectrometry Vacuum System in Tip-Top Condition

ScheduleWe just don’t post about the advantages of using dedicated lab furniture for all your mass spectrometry and other critical lab operations. You knew that! We also like to include posts that support your mass spectrometry work. For example, in this post, we’ll talk about the importance of correctly servicing your MS vacuum system because while we want our lab benches to keep your vacuum pumps nice and quiet, we also don’t want them to fall silent due to neglect or disrepair.

The Importance of Maintenance

Mechanical downtime is never good in a lab. Many labs actually hold on to older mass spec models and keep them tucked away on rolling dedicated lab furniture so they can be brought out in case of emergency. But one of the best ways to prevent those emergencies is proper servicing of every component.

When it comes to mass spectrometry, the vacuum system is one of those critical systems that must be regularly maintained in order to keep your lab fully functioning at all times.

The advantages of following a vacuum system maintenance schedule include better sensitivity, preventing early filament failure, and a reduction in the need for source cleaning. Proper servicing also extends the life of the quadrupole and helps avoid premature failure of the EM Horn.

Mass Spectrometry Vacuum System Service

Every mass spec is going to be slightly different, so it’s always wise to read up on the particular needs of your machines and put appropriate reminders on your calendar. But in general terms, vacuum pump systems should be checked weekly and fully serviced every six months.

Weekly tasks include checking the level of mechanical pump oil and making sure that the seals and O-rings are still fully functioning and flexible. The ion gauge tube should also be checked and degassed when needed. Look for background contamination and leaks as well. If there are any signs of corruption, pull the system out of service and repair it immediately.

Replacing the Vacuum System Pump Oil

The full servicing of the vacuum system primarily involves replacing the mechanical pump oil. Every six months is a good guideline, but that is dependent on your specific applications.

As always, review your mass spec manual for the correct procedures when replacing the pump oil, and always avoid contact with used oil, as it may contain trace amounts of toxic samples. Used oil should be disposed of safely and properly. Once it has been replaced, if your MS has a foreline trap, remember to also replace the molecular sieves.

Extending the Life of Your Mass Spectrometry Electron Multiplier

Besides regular maintenance, there are additional steps you can take to maximize the life of your MS. The electron multiplier will function best without contamination or condensation. Therefore, you should always maintain vacuum at the highest level. Vent and pumpdown with caution and care, and minimize pump fluid background. Any time you vent, do not scan for at least four hours, to allow for pumpdown and thermal equilibration.

Don’t Go Overboard

Of course, with all the complex, expensive machines and systems in your lab, there could be a tendency to go overboard. You don’t want to open and close your machine too frequently, or tune excessively. Otherwise, PFTBA can eventually result in higher background.

This is why it’s also wise to use dedicated lab furniture, which will help keep every mass spectrometer in peak condition by providing a strong, stable surface on which to work and a ventilated chamber for quieting your vacuum pump system. To learn more about how we can support your mass spectrometry research with our custom-designed lab benches, contact us today.

Bench to Bedside: Advances in Next-Generation Mass Spectrometry

Changing IdeasIf you’re a seasoned reader of this blog, you know we get excited about the many ways mass spectrometry continues to revolutionize both scientific research and practical applications. Last October, distinguished experts in various scientific fields gathered in Chicago to talk about the next generation of clinical mass spectrometry and the future of precision medicine. In this post, we salute these dedicated researchers that we trust, in part, are using dedicated lab furniture like ours to keep their mass specs working quietly and efficiently on all their ground-breaking projects,

Touting Next-Generation Mass Spectrometry at AACC

The Chicago gathering was the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s fifth annual Mass Spectrometry and Separation Sciences for Laboratory Medicine Conference. Each of the eminent speakers opened a window into their own lab’s work in pioneering clinical mass spectrometry. From various omics biomarkers to toxicology, drug dosing, and tissue imaging, next-generation lab research is making a difference in a variety of fields. Here is what some of the distinguished speakers had to say.

Newborn Metabolic Screening

Michael Bennett, PhD, is professor of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania and also directs The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s clinical chemistry and metabolic disease laboratory. In his presentation, he outlined how mass spectrometry is being used to assess for metabolic disorders in newborn screenings. His team is also profiling organic acids to diagnose a variety of metabolic disorders, especially where secondary xenobiotics have complicated assessments in the past.

Tackling Toxicology Testing

Hans Maurer, PhD, is head of the department of experimental and clinical toxicology and a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Saarland University in Germany. He opened the conference and set the tone with results of his lab’s toxicology innovations using high-resolution mass spectrometry.

Orbitrap and time-of-flight technologies are bringing greater mass detection accuracy to various drug assessment procedures, including screening, metabolism studies, quantitation and monitoring. All this can be done with shorter prep times and smaller samples, easing MS optimization and providing higher selectivity and sensitivity.

Innovative Tissue Imaging

Richard Caprioli, PhD, is director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Center and holds the Stanford Moore Chair in Biochemistry at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He and his colleagues have used an advanced pixel array to illuminate tissue biopsies and laser ablation images at single mass-to-charge values.

This MS technique can be used with single cells or entire research animal sections, and results have already been gleaned with diabetic renal glomerulus, histology-directed analysis using frozen and paraffin-embedded tissues, and diagnosis of malignant melanoma.

Biomarker Advances

Of course, how quickly these exciting next-generation advances take hold is dependent on lab researchers’ capacity to translate emerging biomarkers from bench to bedside. Yan Victoria Zhang, PhD, director of the clinical mass spectrometry and toxicology lab and associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Rochester in New York, discussed this in greater detail.

She shared some of the challenges labs are facing in this field, including human proteome complexity, a dearth of coherent research pipelines, and the need for sample collection standardization. But work is underway, with MS specialists using MALDI and electro-spray platforms to produce integral contributions.

Innovative Dedicated Lab Furniture for Pioneering Lab Work

We are confident that with the help of both mass specs and the dedicated lab furniture on which they stand, there are no limits to the problems mass spectrometry can solve. To learn how our dedicated lab furniture can help your lab get the most out of its MS, contact us today.