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Techniques & Tools Mass Spectrometry, Liquid Chromatography, Microscopy, Clinical, Environmental, Food, Beverage & Agriculture, Forensics, Metabolomics & Lipidomics

What’s New in Mass Spec?

Biomass (spec) against e-waste

Anna Sieber and her colleagues from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria, have introduced a five-step recycling method that exploits brewer’s yeast to recover metals from waste electronics (also described as e-waste). Using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), the team determined the metal concentration of e-waste samples, to optimize the process for each metal. After adapting the conditions for optimal biosorption with yeast, they managed to recover over 90 percent of zinc from a real polymetallic waste. “Reuse of the yeast biomass could make the metal recovery even more cost-effective while at the same time lowering the dependency on the continuous supply of the adsorbent,” said the authors in their paper.

Heart of… PFAS

PFAS are now linked to “detrimental” lipid profiles, including increased cholesterol and phosphoglyceride levels – which are, in turn, linked to cardiovascular conditions in a partially age-dependent manner. Researchers from Leiden University Medical Center and DZNE revealed stronger effects of PFAS exposure to the lipid profiles of younger people, using four independent UHPLC-MS/MS platforms. “With this ‘untargeted approach’ – an intentionally broad approach without a preconceived target – we were able to prove the connection between the PFAS concentration and a problematic profile of fatty substances, so-called lipids. These include the well-known cholesterol and various other blood lipids that are known to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” said one of the authors, Elvire Landstra in a press release.

From Blood to Bile

Stool analysis in remote settings can be challenging – samples must be stored at −80°C and transported on dry ice for downstream processing. That’s why researchers from the US and Sweden have repurposed dried blood spot (DBS) technology used for newborn screening to measure fecal bile acids. A comparison between ambient dried fecal spots (DFS) and conventional frozen fecal extracts – using targeted liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)-based metabolomics – showed no difference in terms of bile acid profiles. “It was a natural progression to investigate whether DBS could be repurposed to simplify the collection, transport and analysis of other bodily fluids,” said Donald Chace, principal scientist at Capitainer. 

Going Against the Grain 

One barrier to the development of new solid-state batteries is understanding how lithium-ions move within batteries. To dig into these dynamics, researchers from the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), Japan, successfully developed a secondary ion mass spec at low temperatures (cyro-SIMS) to precisely measure the movement of lithium ions at crystalline grain boundaries – a bottleneck to ionic migration.

In Other News…

The Garcia lab introduce GlycanDIA – a workflow to simplify and optimize sensitivity of mass-spec based glycomic analysis. Link  

Researchers determine the lychee-like odor compounds in Muscaris grapes, using a combination of GC-MS and TOF-MS – opening up new options in selective and innovative breeding of grape varieties. Link 

Pieter Dorrestein and colleagues build a reusable MS/MS spectral library of modified bile acids. Link 

The Heck lab investigates the sensitivity of ultralong transients for Orbitrap-based single-ion MS – showcasing new records for analysis of large macromolecular ions. Link  

More precise time-of-death predictions could be achieved following MS-based metabolomics analysis revealing the behavior of microbes that act as “universal decomposers.” Link 

Kathrine Jeppe and colleagues develop and validate a sleep deprivation biomarker combining deep machine learning with LC-MS. Link 

Researchers develop a LC-HRMS based screening method to detect multiple doping agents in dried blood spots – successfully identifying 19 substances. Link

Credit: Image sourced from (Edited)

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About the Author
Markella Loi

Associate Editor, The Analytical Scientist

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