The Human Nutrition Research (HNR) unit of the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cambridge, UK has chosen the Thermo Fisher LTQ Orbitrap Velos, Maldi LTQ Orbitrap XL and Exactive mass spectrometers.
These systems leverage proprietary Thermo Scientific Orbitrap mass-analyser technology, the recognised standard for accurate mass and high-resolution measurement, to provide precise and reliable information.
The MRC is using Orbitrap technology for high-throughput and high-performance metabolomic and lipidomic profiling, which has not been possible using traditional mass-spectrometry instrumentation.
The bioanalytical-sciences division at HNR, led by Prof Dietrich Volmer, is a centre of excellence for developing approaches to measure biomarkers for processes such as insulin resistance, energy expenditure and the availability of dietary nutrients within the body.
The division uses modern biochemical and mass-spectrometry techniques to conduct research aimed at identifying biomarkers for diagnosing and detecting the progress of nutrition-related human diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
Prof Volmer aims to build a population-based lipidomics platform allowing the application of studies of 10,000 or more samples.
This platform will be used to establish biomarkers of nutritional intake, health and disease.
For the MRC, a solution that offered high resolution and enhanced sensitivity was imperative to enable the development of its lipidomics platform.
Prof Volmer recently received an award of GBP2m from a translational medicine funding call of the MRC to establish the Cambridge Lipidomics Biomarker Research Initiative (CLBRI) within his research division.
The MRC recently bought four mass spectrometers based on Orbitrap technology: an LTQ Orbitrap Velos biomarker discovery platform, a Maldi LTQ Orbitrap XL instrument and two Exactive benchtop liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) systems.
The Exactive instruments will be used in the high-throughput biomarker screening stages of the CLBRI projects, whereas the Orbitrap Velos will be applied to more detailed structural identification research such as that performed in biomarker-qualification applications.
The initial experiments performed by Prof Volmer's team in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific have demonstrated the ability of Orbitrap technology to perform targeted and non-targeted lipidomics profiling experiments in large sample sets.
The Maldi LTQ Orbitrap XL provides unparalleled sensitivity for MSn analyses, a rapid scan rate, high mass accuracy and up to 100k resolving power.
This enables the MRC to perform targeted analysis of phospholipids and unbiased profiling.
The ability to apply both strategies in one experiment is an important step forward in the comprehensive analysis of the metabolome and the lipidome in particular.
The Thermo Scientific Exactive is fast, easy-to-use and cost-effective to operate.
Using high-resolution mass spectrometry with instruments capable of measuring m/z ratios with relative mass measurement uncertainties of 1ppm or less and sufficient scan speeds, researchers at the MRC can combine two strategies, allowing unbiased profiling of biological samples and targeted analysis of specific compounds in a single analysis without compromise.