Microbiology – the study of microscopic organisms – isn’t quite ready to wave goodbye to the microscope just yet, but it is making some space next to it on the lab bench. The latest tool to take over the lab? MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry.
We’ve recently highlighted the use of our MALDI system – the MALDI Biotyper - in our Clinical Success Stories series here on the blog (here and here). But the power of MALDI-TOF extends way beyond the clinical and research settings. It’s also the perfect tool for microbiology.
MALDI (Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization) mass spectrometry has become the broadly accepted laboratory standard for next generation microbial identification. Applications can range from:
- clinical routine microbial identification
- environmental and pharmaceutical analysis
- animal health
- industrial microbiology
- taxonomical research
- food safety
- consumer product safety
- quality control
- marine microbiology
High-throughput systems such as Bruker’s MALDI Biotyper* enable the molecular identification, and taxonomical classification or dereplication of microorganisms like bacteria, yeasts and fungi using proteomic fingerprinting.
MALDI-TOF is a great option for the busy microbiology lab since methods typically require minimal sample preparation.
Microbiology Testing – Speed Makes a Difference
Conventional biochemical testing requires a time-consuming incubation period after selection of the microbes from the culture plate. Imagine being able to instantaneously identify colonies from a plate. Today’s state-of-the-art systems can compare your samples against a reference library of microbial isolates from gram-negative bacteria, gram-positive bacteria, yeasts, multicellular fungi and mycobacteria. (Our system, for example, has over 4,600 isolates). Because the systems use proteomic fingerprints to identify microbes, species-specific patterns can be automatically compared with reference spectra in the MALDI-TOF library – providing fast, easy-to-obtain results.
MALDI is Helping Research Move Forward
MALDI is an excellent tool for streamlining microbiological work and reducing manual workload in busy labs. But there’s another reason it’s becoming a widely-used tool for microbiology: it helps make cutting-edge research possible. (Check out Professor David Livermore’s work on antibiotic stewardship using MALDI-TOF to detect beta-lactamases and other potential resistances.)
Has your lab considered using Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging technology as a microbiology tool? Let us know why or why not below.
*The MALDI Biotyper is available in a research-use-only version, or in an IVD-CE version according to EU directive EC/98/79 in various European countries. In the United States of America the MALDI Biotyper has recently received approval for use in specific applications. See Bruker’s Press Release for more information.Read More
Did you know that Moore’s Law was recently modified? Back in the 1960’s – when Moore’s law was created – it stipulated that computer performance would double every 18-24 months…which it did for fifty years. (As technological advances in computing have begun to slow down, the law was recently revised.)
Which brings us to Mass Spec, and a question we hear frequently at Bruker: do you think the current pace of mass spec development is sustainable long-term?
Naysayers, of course, say no – but who could have imagined how far we’ve come over the last fifty years? In fact, we seem to be living in the ‘perfect storm of spectrometry’ from laboratory medicine to screening newborns for hereditary conditions to analyzing creatures8,000 feet under the sea mass spec seems to be everywhere – doing everything.
I recently read something funny (and pretty amazing, when you think about it): “Today’s talking birthday cards have more computing power than an Apollo spacecraft.”
So where will mass spec be in ten, twenty or fifty years?
It’s impossible to tell.
But I can say that it’s an exciting time to be involved in the field of mass spec. And even though technological advances are purportedly slowing down, the rapid pace of technological development and spec-based scientific advances remain astounding. I can’t wait to see tomorrow’s ‘talking birthday card!’
Where do you think mass spec will be fifty years from now?Read More
Here’s an article from last week – Characterization of the N-glycosylation Pattern of Antibodies by Complementary Use of ESI and MALDI Mass Spectrometry – that’s available over at Bioscience Technology. It drives home the amazing range of power and capabilities that complimentary mass spec technologies can deliver when working in tandem. The study paired a Bruker maXis UHR-TOF MS with a Bruker ultrafleXtreme MALDI TOF-TOF to achieve an in-depth characterization of the N-glycosylation pattern in various antibody samples. While this is usually challenging due to the heterogeneous structure of this posttranslational modification, it was successfully achieved using these two complementary MS based analysis techniques.
Check out the article here.Read More
Two weeks ago, I posted about Rapid Drug Screening: Today’s Need for Speed … and Reliability. When it comes to mass spectrometry, what’s good for detecting amphetamines is also the perfect solution for detecting pesticides and plant metabolites.
Pesticides On the Rise – In Spite of GMOs
Pesticide use worldwide exceeds 5 billion pounds. While genetically modified crops did slow (and in some cases reduce) the use of pesticides, an emerging generation of super-resistant weeds and insects has caused pesticide use to begin climbing again.
Is Your Food Safe To Eat?
Pesticides can have negative impacts on human health, making robust compound screening technologies a must. Carcinogenic pesticides have been linked to birth defects, diabetes, depression and other conditions – and nine of the 12 most dangerous and persistent organic chemicals are pesticides. The challenge is shifting to detection in order to avoid the health consequences of widespread pesticide use.
Pesticide Assessment: High Performance Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry
Accurate and reliable screening for the presence of pesticides in food is a major analytical task. The ever-increasing number of pesticides poses special analytical challenges, and hundreds of different pesticide targets need to be assessed during the screening of each sample. It’s also a task that is ideally suited to high performance Time-of-Flight (TOF) mass spectrometry.
At Bruker, we’ve designed a number of systems and tools to help scientists accomplish this. At the core of our pesticide detection systems are the same platforms – Ion Trap and Qq-TOF – used to screen for other substances – such as illicit drug detection in humans (see our previous post here). Bruker’s platforms – including the AmaZon series and compact units – are incredibly versatile, easy to use, fast and powerful. Both systems are ideal for detecting pesticides. The AmaZon, for example, was the first ion trap system equipped to deliver the highest sensitivity levels in mass spectrometry today. Bruker’s compact reduces sample prep and delivers accurate results in a single run in a benchtop-friendly package.
I hate to sound like a broken record – but behind every great piece of equipment is a powerful software package. Last year, we introduced PesticideScreener – Bruker’s comprehensive solution for pesticide and plant metabolite screening using market-leading accurate-mass UHR-QTOF mass spectrometry with an information-rich 700 compound database. It delivers rigorously tested methods in accordance with EU SANCO guidelines.
Best of all, PesticideScreener delivers Parts-Per-Billion level resolution, with exceptionally low false positive rates. In keeping with a core Bruker concept that systems should be designed with the layperson in mind, the PesticideScreener is easy-to-use – even for inexperienced or untrained staff. (We’re firm believers in common sense solutions to common challenges.) Our high performance TOF-MS systems also feature our TargetAnalysis software package, which is ideal for the accurate and reliable screening of multiple samples.
What tools does your company use for pesticide screening?Read More
High Definition delivers phenomenal high-resolution results for complex-sample metabolomics, biomarker identification, top-down protein analysis and quantitative target compound validation. Back in July, Bruker introduced its exciting new High Definition QTOF capabilities, and in September we announced the introduction of our maXis HD ultra high resolution QTOF system. Our latest systems (including the maXis and Impact HD) using this technology feature:
- Ion optics
- Record high-speed digitization
- Novel real-time precursor ion selection.
Combined, these features team up to deliver more highly-defined samples with greater confidence than ever before. How High is High Def? These systems make use of an High-Definition Collision (HDC) cell which enables record-breaking full sensitivity mass resolution (greater than 75,000), as well as accurate mass capabilities beyond any competing QTOF system. Due to its extreme sensitivity broad mass-transfer ion optics and the fastest available 50 Gbit/sec sampling technology, a dynamic range of 5 orders of magnitude is achieved in 1 second of LC time. More importantly, HD detection technology translates directly into enhanced dynamic range and extreme sensitivity down to very low masses at UHPLC speeds. Facing research challenges? Read the Q-TOF newsletter and learn more about going High Definition.Read More
The need for testing to detect and identify drug substances and compounds in humans and animals has exploded over the last 25 years. And since the results can have serious consequences for the person or animal being tested, rapid and accurate data is critical.
Labs Demand Both Speed and Reliable, Accurate Results
As you know, lab demand is increasing both for:
- Rapid comprehensive screening for hundreds of substances, with short turnaround times, and;
- Reliable, high-accuracy sample analysis for single or a few toxicologically-relevant target compounds that may be more difficult to detect.
These two tasks demand very different solutions. When performing comprehensive analysis screening for many substances, speed matters. With analysis for a few target compounds, reliability – meaning the resolution, accuracy and reproducibility – is critical. The industry’s current standard analytical technique – LC – triple quadrupole mass spectrometric analysis – is limited in its ability to perform such dissimilar tasks.
The mass spec industry has undergone a technology revolution over the last 20 years, and now some state-of-the-art TOF-MS instruments can overcome such limitations while delivering more capabilities, more data, more accuracy and more resolution…faster. These best-in-class drug screening systems combine the speed and accuracy of ultra high performance liquid chromatography with a comprehensive drug library and a fast mass spec capable of extreme resolution.
Solving Speed and Reliability for Lab Managers
Here’s an example – Bruker’s Toxtyper™* drug screening system offers a fully-automated UHPLC-MSn ion trap technology screening method with a rapid 11 minute duty cycle. The Toxtyper consists of our AmaZon™ system, which delivers results with an 11 minute duty cycle. We developed this platform to meet the specific needs of our clinical and routine lab customers. Some indicated speed was important, others focused on high-accuracy and detection capabilities. Most, however, needed both to meet today’s increasing demand for drug detection and identification. Toxtyper™ is a robust and easy-to-use system that incorporates our innovative proprietary SmartFrag™ technology, which removes variation and eliminates the time-consuming need to constantly tune the system.
Screening thousands of compounds demands an easy-to-use yet powerful software package. That’s why the Toxtyper™ system comes with a variety of straightforward software tools along with a comprehensive library of over 830 drug substances. TargetAnalysis™ is a powerful and flexible tool that allows users to identify numerous targets in LC-TOF-MS data files quickly. Quantification of target compounds is simplified using Toxtyper’s automated QuantAnalysis™ software. These tools work together with Toxtyper to deliver a turn-key drug screening solution.
With more compounds to screen for – and more samples waiting to be screened – the job of today’s analytical toxicologist is becoming more and more complex – and it’s driving the need for versatile, effective and fast analysis platforms.
What challenges does your clinical lab face with rapid drug screening?
*NOTE: For research use only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.Read More
Finding a new prognostic marker in HER2 positive breast cancer
Breast cancer is a leading cause of mortality among women worldwide. Predictive biomarkers that enable personalized clinical therapies are a key research focus, offering the hope of highly-targeted and more effective treatment.
MALDI imaging’s ability to detect prognostic protein biomarkers – like much scientific advancement – traces its roots to earlier research. In this case, a 2010 study evaluated the use of MALDI imaging to detect and measure HER2 (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2), which plays a key role in certain breast cancers. The study used MALDI Imaging to classify HER2 receptor status in human breast cancer specimens. HER2 has emerged as an important target for therapy.
In this Bruker Application Note, MALDI molecular tissue imaging further demonstrates its capabilities as a proteomics tool for the direct determination of protein expression in tissue. Building on the importance of targeting HER2, the more recent research in this App Note identified CRIP1 (an intestinal cytosolic tissue protein) as a new biomarker candidate for HER2+ breast cancer tissues.
This approach brings histology and MALDI imaging together as a powerful disease-fighting tool, bringing us one step closer to therapies tailored specifically to an individual’s condition.Read More