Biomedical Applications

Breath

Breath analysis is a growing field in medical research and drug testing. Characterization of compounds in human breath can be used for non-invasive diagnosis of diseases, assessment of physiological functions, therapy control, and pharmacokinetic studies. Human breath contains hundreds of VOCs, many at trace concentration levels. Analysis demands ultra-low detection limits, broad dynamic range, and fast time response. With unmatched sensitivity and mass resolving power, the Vocus PTR-TOF is a cutting-edge solution for online analysis of VOCs in breath.

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Cells

Chemical analysis of single cells is of growing interest in biological and clinical research. In contrast to classical bulk measurements, cell-by-cell analysis of cellular genome, proteome and metabolome addresses the cells’ heterogeneity and helps to discover new regulatory pathways. Major and trace elements (Fe, K, Na, Se, I, Mn, etc.), though present in very low concentration, regulate many processes, such as growth and energy exchange, and play a major role in biological systems.Elemental analysis of single cells demands rapid, high sensitivity, multi-parametric detection, which is possible with the icpTOF.

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Lipids

Lipidomics and metabolomics are particularly difficult analytical challenges due to the number of important isomeric species that are known or postulated in biological samples. Current separation and identification techniques are too often insufficiently powerful, slow or ambiguous. Many of the isomers, especially for lipids (e.g. position of the acyl chain, position of the double bond or double bond geometry) differ by less than 1% in collision cross section – and can still be baseline separated by the IMS-TOF. The same level of performance is maintained in complex biological mixtures.

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Proteins

Over the last decade, numerous papers have reported IMS-MS investigations of biomolecules, especially proteins. In these studies, IMS-MS is used to probe the three-dimensional shape of biomolecules as well as the composition, stoichiometry, and arrangement of units in biomolecular complexes. Yet, the majority of these studies were conducted on instruments with operating conditions that can lead to artifacts due to collisionally-induced heating and to imprecise measurements of collision cross sections.  The TOFWERK IMS-TOF is a drift-tube based IMS-MS instrument that operates under low-field conditions with a high pressure- and temperature-controlled IMS cell. This ensures that native conditions are preserved during the ion mobility separation.

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Tissue

2D and 3D mass spectral imaging of biological tissue is a rapidly developing field. Knowledge of the distribution of essential major (P, S) and trace elements (K, Na, Fe, Zn, etc.) as well as toxic metals within tissue samples is instrumental to toxicology studies, cancer research, drug development, neurology and biology. The ability to quantify species in the ppb to low ppm range is a major strength of laser ablation inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) imaging. In addition to analyzing essential metals and heteroatoms (P and S), ICP-MS can also be used for imaging and quantification of biomolecules, if labeled with specific element tags. The combination of the icpTOF with fast-washout laser ablation systems enables high-resolution, multi-elemental imaging of metals and nanoparticles in tissue at unprecedented speed.

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