Today’s Challenges in Food Safety & Testing

Our globalized food supply chain poses serious challenges to producers, brands, consumers and governments. Safeguarding the quality of food & beverages – from product development and production through quality control & inspections – is a priority.

An excerpt from an article in Food Quality & Safety magazine ( 2011)  lays out the case for rapid and accurate food safety testing:

 Each year, nearly 48 million people in the United States get sick from contaminated food; some 128,000 are hospitalized, and there are 3,000 foodborne illness-related deaths.As more of our food comes from farther afield, the opportunity for contamination, both manmade and naturally occurring, can only increase. In the United States alone, an estimated 15% of the food supply is imported, including 50% of fresh fruits, 20% of fresh vegetables, and 80% of seafood.

Given these numbers, challenges facing the food safety & testing industry include:

Facing a growing number of samples to analyze every day, labs are also confronting the need for multi-residue analysis with more and more of those samples. Food safety is top-of-mind, and with every global incident, our awareness of risks eventually drives the implementation of further testing.

Cost of Testing
With today’s analytical systems (e.g., mass spec), costs can be as low as pennies per sample. Combined with manpower and time savings, it’s no wonder labs constantly seek out new technologies to improve productivity. Beyond the generalized ‘price per sample’ number, however, are the costs of spare parts and consumables …and also the impact of uptime/downtime and instrumentation maintenance.

Quality of Results
Food safety labs need validated, high-sensitivity analysis techniques, combined with low detection (LOD) limits and high reproducibility. Due to high up-time requirements, labs are increasingly looking for easy-to-use zero-calibration systems and simplified workflows to ensure the integrity of results.

Speed of Testing
With more and more analysis to be done, food testing labs are always seeking to reduce the time between analysis and reporting – without increasing the risk of human error.

 Choosing the best food safety analytical system can be complex – and is highly-dependent on what is being tested. As a general guideline, different technologies are typically utilized along these lines:

  • Targeted Quantitation: GC, GC/MS SQ, GC/MS/MS TQ, LC/MS/MS TQ
  • Screening & Quantitation: LC/MS Ion Trap, LC/MS TOF/QTOF
  • Microbiology & Conclusive Identification: MALDI TOF TOF/TOF, FTMS
  • Inorganic Contaminants: ICP-MS

What’s the most widely-used analytical system in your food safety lab?

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Complementary Proteomics – Breaking the Knowledge Barrier

Bruker-PRIMEComplementary proteomics – the integration of different high-performance techniques – uses multiple platforms to resolve a biological question or puzzle. Each of those technologies unlocks a piece of the answer. Viewed as a whole, they provide a multi-dimensional analysis unavailable when viewed as individual analytical methods.

Here are three key areas where different mass spec technologies can collectively help break the proteomics knowledge barrier and solve more complex proteomics questions:

  • BioMarker Discovery & Validation
    For biomarker discovery and validation, UHR-QTOF is generally considered an exceptionally powerful and easy-to-use technique. In the case of Bruker’s UHR-QTOF – the impact HD – our system is especially powerful when it comes to analyzing complex mixtures with short (60-90 minute) gradients.Learn more about the impact HD, which offers an array of new industry benchmarks – from ease of use (zero adjustment) to performance stability, to power (5X magnitude intra-spectral dynamic range).
  • Glycopeptide Characterization
    For unrivaled glycopeptide sensitivity and characterization, QTOF (learn more about Bruker’s QTOF captiveSpray nanoBooster technology), delivers unique characterization capabilities and glycoproteomics workflows that enable the screening and characterization of glycans and glycopeptides. QTOF can deliver certainty in PTM characterization with MS/MS resolution and accuracy at speed, together with fantastic intact protein measurement capabilities. Bruker’s amazon ETD, for example, is uniquely suited to labile PTM localization and small protein top-down analysis capabilities.  Ideally, a high-end QTOF system will be complemented with MALDI for glycopeptide screening and ISD top-down proteomics capabilities.
  • Imaging – the Spatial Frontier
    A third key element to solving complex proteomics challenges – spatial information (in this case, tissue distribution) – isn’t available via the two other approaches, above. Tissue distribution data can be obtained using MALDI imaging workflows, which support both intact protein (top-down profiling) and image ID (Bottom-up imaging) techniques. (By the way, when it comes to system flexibility, we consider our MALDI FLEX series to be the hands-down champion, capable of on-tissue biomarker discovery as well as full glycopeptide analysis or high-speed, wide mass range Top-Down analyses.)

Information on the identification, regulation, characterization and distribution of proteins is critical to deciphering complex biological questions. A complementary approach to proteomics in which different techniques are applied delivers multi-faceted data that provides a more complete understanding of biological function.

What tools does your lab use to answer complex proteomics questions?

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US-HUPO 2014 – Bruker Heads to Seattle

HUPO-SeattleIf you’ll be attending the 10th Annual US HUPO Conference, (April 6-9, 2014, Seattle Westin Hotel), it promises to be a great show. This year, the focus is on advancing biology through technology and computation, emphasizing new findings and discoveries.

We’ll be highlighting Bruker’s excellence in the field of proteomics instrumentation and analysis, including Top-Down & Bottom-Up capabilities, as well as complimentary proteomics approaches that utilize multiple analytical technologies in the pursuit of solutions to today’s toughest research challenges.

Bruker will also be sponsoring a lunch seminar on Monday, April 7 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Methods and Hardware Improvements to Improve Discovery and Targeted Proteomics Performances on a Last Generation Benchtop UHR-Q-TOF. The lunch seminar will be held in Cascade II (Mezzanine Level), at the Westin Seattle.

Sign up here for the lunch seminar

We look forward to seeing everyone in Seattle!

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Quantitative and Qualitative Strategies for Targeted and Non-Targeted Metabolomics

solarix-xrTargeted and Non-Targeted Metabolomics – Difficult to Strategize?

Developing specific strategies for both targeted metabolomics studies can be challenging. And non-targeted studies? Historically, it’s been virtually impossible to devise a specific strategy. With the field evolving so quickly, it’s been the identification of those unidentified entities in a sample – the very heart of non-targeted metabolomics – that has lagged behind.

Recent metabolomics technology innovations  are bringing non-targeted metabolomics closer to the other ‘omics realms, notably proteomics.

Complementary Metabolomics

We say it with top-down and bottom-up proteomics and we preach it with preclinical imaging…but it’s also a living truth for the field of metabolomics and a popular theme for us (see here and here, for example): 

                Complementary approaches to metabolomics make all the difference.

The ability to choose from a range of systems and separation and analytical techniques gives you the freedom to perform a variety of targeted and non-targeted metabolomics studies.  It allows you to generate qualitative and quantitative metabolomic profiles that cover the broad chemical space of metabolite structure and composition.

Bottom line: multiple state-of-the-art tools working together can perform comprehensive metabolomic profiling to uncover previously hidden insights – yielding valuable clues to an organism’s physiology.

Combining  Essential Hardware & Software to Generate a Complete Picture of the Metabolome
With its dynamic range, ability to analyze complex samples, and high reproducibility, mass spec is the perfect tool for metabolomic profiling. (An excellent  example is Bruker’s solariX XR Fourier Transform MS system, which utilizes the acclaimed ParaCell™ technology and  eXtreme Resolution to deliver resolving power greater than 10 million for the most complex mixtures. It’s the perfect tool for structural elucidation of unknowns.)

Mass Spec is by no means alone as a key tool for metabolomics – complementary NMR  and MS data make it possible to do non-targeted metabolomic analysis and discover unknown metabolites and novel biomarkers. Exploring the entire small molecule chemical space is crucial for capturing the full spectrum of the metabolome and generating a complete metabolomic profile.

The advantages of a complementary approach to metabolomics doesn’t stop with non-targeted studies. Having the tools needed to perform targeted metabolomic studies allows you to detect known target compounds and validate biomarker candidates using established spectral libraries. Far-reaching applications may include studying the effects of disease on physiologically important metabolites, identifying biomarkers for use in novel diagnostic assays, or for early discovery of  drug toxicity or monitoring the therapeutic effects of a drug candidate.

Metabolomics is Growing Up, and So Are its Tools

To generate a complete picture of the metabolome, researchers need a suite of hardware and software solutions that allow them to probe deep into the chemical space. They need high resolving power and the right ionization sources. They want to collect large amounts of complex data, and easily apply sophisticated computational algorithms to analyze it.

Metabolomics – while still playing catch-up with proteomics, et al., – is finally seeing dedicated tools emerge on the scene. Today’s best integrated metabolomics solutions marry complementary systems (with different techniques and resultant data) together in the search for answers.

What are your metabolomic profiling tools of choice?

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Bruker Mass Spec Wrap-Up: Last Chance at a Great QTOF Deal; New YouTube Videos & More.

Before we forget, March is the last chance for our EU and US customers to get a great deal on a refurbished, warrantied, state-of-the-art Bruker maXis plus UHR-QTOFThis deal delivers a state-of-the-art maXis plus, featuring the latest HDC cell and 50 GBits/sec digitizer – and special applications packages are available for Pharma, BioPharma, Biomarker and Applied Markets. Learn more.

New From the Bruker Literature Room & Video Collection

We’ve seen a bunch of new videos and white papers over the last few months; here’s the lowdown on some of the latest content available in Bruker’s Literature Room  and our growing collection of videos.

Bruker App Note: MALDI Imaging Success Stories in Clinical Research – Mini Review
This mini-review focuses on recent imaging studies that use validation strategies to demonstrate a functional role of identified markers within the respective disease pathways.

Article: Glycomics Using Mass Spectrometry
This review provides an overview on currently used mass spectrometric approaches such as the characterization of glycans, the analysis of glycopeptides obtained by proteolytic cleavage of proteins and the analysis of glycosphingolipids.

Latest Bruker YouTube Videos:

Bruker’s Tony Drury discusses QTOF, Toxtyper and more.

Metabolomic Profiling
This video discusses metabolomics, some of the analytical challenges, and a broad range of solutions – from UHR-Q-TOF to FT-MS to NMR.


Share which content you find the most interesting.

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Ionization: Choosing the Correct API Technique for Optimal Results

Bruker compactBack in an August post on proteomics, we mentioned Bruker’s CaptiveSpray nanoBooster™  ion source, which helps boost peptide ID rates in complex proteomics samples.

Getting quality data is all about ionization (you might have noticed it’s a theme with us – here’s a January post on our dual ion funnel).  This all ties up very nicely with a Feb. 3rd article over at GEN News,  in which Bruker’s Michael Timmons explores choosing the correct ionization method for optimal results.

Ionization Technique Selection Depends on the Chemical Nature of the Compound

Making the right choice from amongst the three key main atmospheric pressure ionization (API) techniques -  Electrospray Ionization, Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization, and Atmospheric Pressure Photo Ionizationwill depend largely on your compound’s chemical nature (e.g., molecular weight and polarity).

Here’s a quick rundown on each of the three main ionization techniques:

Electrospray Ionization (ESI)

Generally considered the softest technique, Electrospray ionization can be used with a wide range of compounds -from species of biological origin such as proteins, oligonucleotides, and metabolites, to organic molecules. Known as an atmospheric ionization technique, electrospray’s efficiency can be impacted by the pH of the solvent (acidic pH is preferred for positive ion formation – such as amino groups – while base pH is favored for negative ions).

Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization (APCI)

Commonly used in the analysis of small molecule organics, polymers, and lipids, atmospheric pressure chemical ionization is well-suited to analytes with a wide range of polarities (including non-polar). Because the process generates higher heat due to the vaporizer, APCI is less useful for thermally labile compounds. One advantage of APCI: it’s less sensitive to solution chemistry.

Atmospheric Pressure Photo Ionization (APPI)

APPI is similar to APCI in that it can be used for non-polar analytes and that both the solvent and the sample are vaporized during the process – which is a disadvantage of APPI with certain compounds. As an ionization technique, APPI is typically used when analyzing oils, lipids and certain hydrocarbons.

ESI – The Go-To Option for Method Development

So which option is best? Again, it comes down to the properties of the compound being analyzed. But Timmons sums up the current thinking for method development:

“It would be recommended that, due to ease of use and responsiveness to a wider range of compounds, ESI should be the first option for method development, instrument parameter tuning, and analysis. Because APPI and APCI work for a narrower range of compounds they can be explored as alternatives for improving sensitivity, increasing linear dynamic range, and possibly generating a higher signal-to-noise ratio.”

Check out the full article over at Gen News here.

How important is ionization technology in your selection of a mass spec system?


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PITTCON 2014 – From the Show Floor

Bruker @ PITTCON 2014If you are currently attending PITTCON, stop by booth 4135 and say hi … and don’t forget Bruker’s annual PITTCON press conference, Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 12:00-1:15 pm at the Hyatt Regency McCormick. (Lunch will be served). To learn more or register, click here.

We’re introducing a range of new products at PITTCON, from all corners of the Bruker world, including NMR, GC-MS, FT-IR and MALDI-TOF:

TopSolids™ Software Provides Accelerated Workflow in Solid-State NMR for the Characterization of Protein Structures
TopSolids™ is a new intuitive, workflow-based software package for solid-state NMR in structural biology that provides menu-based, automated setup and acquisition of the most advanced multinuclear multi-dimensional NMR experiments.

Next-generation GC-APCI II GC-MS interface with automatic MS calibration for metabolomics and small molecule research
The GC-APCI II is designed to provide the best GC-MS performance together with dramatically improved usability. It allows smarter use of precious lab-space and saves time during operation. Unidentified GC peaks can now be routinely analyzed in UHR-MS systems.

MIR-FIR Spectroscopy in One Step: An FT-IR Dream Becomes a Reality 
Introducing the world’s first FTIR spectrometer which covers the complete mid and far Infrared/THz spectral ranges in one step with no gaps! The new wide range MIR-FIR DLaTGS detector is combined with the recently introduced wide range MIR-FIR beamsplitter.

 JuiceScreener 3.0
Bruker today announced the third release of its successful NMR JuiceScreenerTM. The new release comes with significant enhancements that enable the accurate, swift, automated screening of even more fruit juice types from just a single experiment.

autoflex™ speed MALDI-TOF(/TOF) with 2 kHz Smartbeam™ Laser
The new autoflexTM speed delivers superior performance by incorporating numerous innovative technology advancements which provide further enhanced data quality, acquisition speed, class-leading mass and dynamic range, and general robust and efficient performance.

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