More Recent Trends in Mass Spectrometry

As long-term readers know, our dedicated lab furniture supports work around the world, and we love sharing the latest innovations of mass spectrometry.

3D Mass Spectrometry and Robotics

Mass specs prefer accessing and analyzing a smooth, planar surfaces, but because the real world isn’t flat, a team at Georgia Institute of Technology combined robotics with mass spectrometry. They created a system called robotic surface analysis MS (RoSA-MS) that attaches a custom-crafted laser scanner to a robotic arm.

The scanner creates a three-dimensional digital map of the sample’s surface. After the attached sampling probe gathers trace amounts of target material at precise locations, it is placed in an electrospray ionization mass spec for analysis. Applications for this technology outside of the lab are endless, including forensics where mass spec sampling of evidence is currently not feasible.

Transforming Diagnosis with Live Tissues

Mass spectrometry also aids with the sample-preparation process. Desorption, and the vacuum in which it occurs, can irreparably damage your live samples and tissues. A group of scholars at South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology developed a system that analyzes, with high-resolution, live samples at the micrometer level.

After innovating a handful of fronts, the DGIS team utilized a femtosecond laser to desorb biomolecules from biological samples and a plasma jet to ionize biomolecules and then analyzed mass-spectrometry samples. The team also distributed gold nanoparticles onto a biological sample through the endocytosis of live tissues, which transformed their light-absorption properties and required much lower laser power for biomolecule desorption. They addressed engineering factors by including an ion transmission device, a laser-focusing lens, a two-dimensional scanning stage, and a signal synchronization circuit.

This process enabled researchers to visualize, in high resolution, biological samples with metabolic activity. If this process can be refined to widen molecular-weight range, it can be used in drug-development testing and decrease the sacrifice of laboratory animals.

Analyzing Bacterial Resistance

According to the World Health Organization, bacterial resistance is the largest single threat to human health, but until 2018, mass spectrometry could not analyze the larger proteins connected to antibiotic resistance. Because clinicians need this information to respond effectively, French and Chinese scientists developed a process for mass spectrometry to play a crucial role in combatting mutating bacteria.

The team from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Shanghai’s Fudan University imprinted steel plates with light-absorbing titanium dioxide nanoparticles. They placed bacteria on the plates and then used UV rays to trigger an electrochemical reaction that augmented the laser’s effects and opened the bacterial membranes, which released a variety of biological molecules for further testing. Since those initial experiments, proteins are now the scientists’ focus because the proteins alter antibiotic effectiveness. Analyzing multiple other molecules, through the use of mass spectrometry, can help identify a bacterial fingerprint.

We are thrilled that mass spectrometry contributes to scientific exploration and effectiveness in important frontiers, and we are grateful that our IonBenches support this work. To learn more about how our dedicated lab furniture can support your innovations, contact Tim Hawkins via email or at 1-888-669-1233.