We are developing our assays further and will incorporate new technologies to improve coverage, sensitivity and capabilities of our Exposomics services.
Currently the development focus is on the following technologies, methods and research areas:
Our lab is a pioneer in automation, with excellent liquid handling platforms from manufacturers including Tecan, CTC PAL, Agilent, and others. We use these platforms not only to automate routine steps like aliquoting, but also to develop customized technology modules and protocols that can be integrated in our workflows, such as the hanging droplet evaporator to enrich samples 100-1000 fold.
The automated workflows are centered out our PAA workcell, pictured below. This unique infrastructure contains a dozen instruments including liquid handlers, plate sealers, and centrifuges. All of these are accessed via autonomous mobile robot (AMR) which can navigate the lab floor, bringing the sample trays and plates from the workcell to MS systems for a fully automated workflow.
In addition to improving throughput in sample processing, the workcell allows us to minimize contamination of the samples from lab and protects the lab members from possible contagions in samples.
For high throughput applications, an LC separation becomes the rate limiting step. We are developing different strategies to improve sample throughput. Our analysis time per sample can range from three minutes down to a few seconds per sample. This will allow large scale studies at affordable costs.
A semi-quantitative HILIC MS/MS method covering more than 1200 targets in 19 lipid classes resolved at the fatty acid chain level has been developed and validated. Electron Activated Dissociation (EAD) methods will be optimised and used to induce more extensive fragmentation of molecular ions than usually obtained by collision-induced dissociation.
A GC-Orbitrap method for untargeted analysis of semi-volatile environmental chemicals including pesticides, flame retardants, PCBs is being harmonized with other exposome labs worldwide to improve comparisons between studies.
Single cell mass spectrometry uses microscopes for sampling from in-vitro models and subsequent analysis with an orbitrap MS. This allows to study and sample relevant cells from complex 3D models such as patient-derived organoids or organ on chip models. Research is being done to push the limits of detection further, increase throughput, and allow for dilution-free sample preparation.
We are continually extending the number of identified compounds, improving sensitivity and working on improved identification strategies.