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Techniques & Tools Liquid Chromatography, Gas Chromatography, Clinical, Environmental, Food, Beverage & Agriculture, Forensics

What’s New in Chromatography?


Dangerously delicious. If you are a charcuterie lover, you might want to think before adding those smoked ham slices on your platter. A research team from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, has characterized the volatile aroma and hazardous compounds presented in smoked meat using gas and liquid chromatography. Phenolics, aldehydes and nitrogenous compounds were detected among the chemical profiles of the smoked meats tested – with Norharman, Nε-carboxymethyl lysine (CML) and Nε-carboxyethyl lysine (CEL) found in concerning concentrations in pork and chicken samples.

Beefed up BCAA analysis. Branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements have become popular amongst athletes and fitness enthusiasts thanks to their potential to enhance muscle building, help with recovery, and reduce exercise-related fatigue. But some products have been shown to contain unregulated, potentially harmful, and difficult-to-detect isomers. To address this issue, Ina Varjaf and her team developed a multiple heart-cutting achiral-chiral LC-LC method (mLC-LC) for the analysis of one such class of isomers, dansylated (Dns) BCAAs in commercial tablets. All contents were successfully identified – and found within safe limits – with high accuracy and precision. A validation study of the new method and its data was also conducted with conventional LC-MS/MS. 

Water painting. Despite water-based paints being considered more environmentally friendly and less “smelly,” Yujie Fan and his colleagues warn that the use of these paints “may lead to long-term exposure” to toxic chemicals. The scientists decided to characterize the chemical composition of 40 water-based samples – all ranked within the top 70 brands and advertised to contain zero or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, analysis with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, revealed 11 VOCs with concentrations up to 20,000 ppm. Known endocrine disruptors, like phthalates were also detected – and are now undergoing toxicity assessment. 

The grass that keeps on giving. The research team behind the development of NanoLuc Binary Technology (NanoBiT) – a peptide ligase activity assay to detect asparaginyl endopeptidases (AEPs) for protein synthesis – has now engineered a bamboo-derived protein ligase. BmAEP1 was first identified in bamboo leaves, and demonstrated high ligase activity – a characteristic that captured the researchers’ attention for further study. A mutant zymogen created during cloning was cleaved with trypsin and “conveniently removed” using ion-exchange chromatography. “The engineered bamboo-derived peptide ligase represents a novel tool for protein labeling and cyclic peptide synthesis,” concluded the authors in their paper.

In Other News…

Researchers advance forensic LC–MS/MS with black iron oxide nanoparticles – successfully analyzing 263 postmortem blood samples for cocaine, antidepressants, and other metabolites. Link

Significant levels of neurotoxic non-protein amino acids (NPAAs) detected in American lobsters using LC-MS/MS raise concerns about risks to human health. Link   

Lipidomic profiling of herbal tea with untargeted LC/MS suggests an abundance of bioactive lipids that promote various health benefits. Link

Scientists use fast gas chromatography-proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (FGC-PTR-MS) for rapid identification of bacteria – based on their smell. Link

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About the Author
Markella Loi

Associate Editor, The Analytical Scientist

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