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This Week's Mass Spec News

Image supplied by Perdita Barran

Essential Reading


Many readers will have seen those robotic dogs from Boston Dynamics, NASA, and others. Some of you may have thought about attaching a portable mass spectrometer… Indeed, that is what researchers from Jinan University, Guangzhou, China, have done – for on-site detection of hazardous volatile organic compounds. ACS has a video of the robo-dog, which the researchers purchased from Unitree Robotics Company (China), before attaching a newly-designed robotic arm for on-site extraction of trace volatiles in the air, which are then analyzed using an attached GC-MS system – within minutes. 

The sound of high throughput

“A much-needed paradigm shift for ultra-fast biomarker screening” is how Jenny Van Eyk and colleagues describe their new acoustic ejection mass spectrometry (AEMS) assay. The researchers were able to quantify SARS-CoV-2 peptides in triplicate from 145 viral swabs in 10 min, and acute phase response proteins in 267 plasma samples in 4.8 hours – a 15-fold speed improvement over LC-MS. AEMS achieves high sampling rates by harnessing acoustic waves to propel sample droplets into a flow stream for mass spectrometric analysis, eliminating the need for chromatography, and had not previously been used for protein biomarker quantification. 


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Worth your time…

There wasn’t a single Great Oxidation of the oceans 2.3 billion years ago, according to mass spec analysis of sulfur isotopes in marine shales; instead, there were many "oxygenations." Link

Integrated online native mass spectrometry platform minimizes sample handling, maximizes throughput, and boosts robustness for rapid quantitation of AAV capsids. Link

Improved pipeline for O-glycoproteomics analysis provides proteome-wide, site-specific, quantitative results by incorporating the O-Pair method as a module within FragPipe. Link

Researchers develop omicsMIC (mass spectrometry-based omics with missing values imputation methods comparison) – an interactive platform that provides researchers with a framework to evaluate the performance of 28 diverse imputation methods. Link

Patterns of protein differences between patients who do and do not develop eye pain after refractive surgery may serve as biomarkers of postsurgical eye pain as well as potential therapeutic targets. Link

Community Corner

Mass Spec in the New York Times 

Last week, the NY Times published an article about Joy Milne, “The woman who could smell Parkinson’s.” As many readers will know, Perdita Barran – who is featured heavily in the piece – is working on a mass spectrometry-based test for Parkinson’s disease, inspired by Joy’s remarkable ability. Indeed, that is what Perdita spoke about at ASMS during the Waters press conference for the release of the Xevo MRT. 

There, she explained how she’s using the Xevo MRT (a QTof designed for high-throughput analysis) alongside cyclic IM-MS to better understand how Parkinson’s disease progresses and to identify biomarkers that could inform clinicians and improve outcomes for patients, as well as creating opportunities for the development of neuroprotective agents and other therapies.

In the Times article, Perdita explains how, before she met Joy, she became personally acquainted with the oddities of olfaction following a bike accident, which meant she was more open to Joy’s claims. She also shares her struggles with funding – and the possibility of screening for Parkinson’s via sebum swab tests.

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About the Author
James Strachan

Over the course of my Biomedical Sciences degree it dawned on me that my goal of becoming a scientist didn’t quite mesh with my lack of affinity for lab work. Thinking on my decision to pursue biology rather than English at age 15 – despite an aptitude for the latter – I realized that science writing was a way to combine what I loved with what I was good at.

From there I set out to gather as much freelancing experience as I could, spending 2 years developing scientific content for International Innovation, before completing an MSc in Science Communication. After gaining invaluable experience in supporting the communications efforts of CERN and IN-PART, I joined Texere – where I am focused on producing consistently engaging, cutting-edge and innovative content for our specialist audiences around the world.


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