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What’s New in Mass Spec?

Magic Methods. As the relaxation of rules restricting the medical use of “magic” mushrooms continues apace, so too does the demand for reliable analytical methods to determine potency. And that’s where Kevin Schug’s team at The University of Texas at Arlington – in collaboration with Schimadzu and MilliporeSigma – come in. The team has developed an LC-MS/MS method – including new protocols for milling and extraction – to evaluate the psilocybin and psilocin concentration in five different strains of P. cubensis for the purpose of enabling clinical testing. They found that total psilocybin and psilocin concentration varied between 0.85 and 1.45 percent

Biodegradable microplastic? Finding viable alternatives to traditional petroleum-based plastics has never been more important. There are companies developing plant-based polymers that biodegrade – but what about at the microplastic level? According to research using GC-MS and scanning-electron microscopy, Algenesis’s algae-based polymers do, in fact, degrade at the microplastic level, at least in under seven months. “This material is the first plastic demonstrated to not create microplastics as we use it,” said Stephen Mayfield, a paper coauthor, School of Biological Sciences professor and co-founder of Algenesis, in a press release. “This is actually plastic that is not going to make us sick."

Trust your gut. People with several species of bacteria from the Oscillibacter genus have lower cholesterol levels than those who lacked them, according to a recent research from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Massachusetts General Hospital. The researchers characterized the biochemical profile of gut metabolites and microbial genomes from 1,429 participants in relation to cardiovascular disease risk – combining metagenomic sequencing, machine learning and mass spec.  Analysis revealed the exact pathway through which these gut microbes break down cholesterol – ultimately leading to a lower heart disease risk. “Our work highlights the possibility that additional sterol metabolism pathways may be modified by gut microbes. There are potentially a lot of new discoveries to be made that will bring us closer to a mechanistic understanding of how microbes interact with the host,” said first co-author Chenhao Li in a press release

Boat Race DOMs? One of the challenges associated with monitoring water quality is the need to take lots of different measurements of many indicators of ecosystem health, with many devices. Researchers from The University of Cambridge and Trent University developed a method focusing on the composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM), also termed chemodiversity, which influences many processes in rivers and lakes, including nutrient cycling, carbon storage, light absorption, and food web interactions. By monitoring chemodiversity – with high-resolution mass spec – researchers can monitor freshwater health. The researchers recently wrote a “perspective” for Science, explaining how high-resolution mass spectrometry can add new information to improve freshwater health. And last month, Andrew’s lab discovered that photochemical processes transform dissolved organic matter differently depending on its initial composition.


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In Other News…

Orbitrap mass spec used to identify a new class of lipids called short-chain fatty acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids (SFAHFAs) with links to maintaining gut health in Japanese herbal teas. Link

Scientists introduce MALDI BeeTyping – a mass spec-based blood test to identify bee health stressors – successfully characterizing the hemolymph peptidome of bees. Link 

Perdita Barran and Rosalind Le Feuvre from The University of Manchester have secured £49.35m from the UKRI Infrastructure Fund to establish C-MASS – a national hub-and-spoke infrastructure designed to integrate and advance the country’s capability in mass spectrometry. Link

Platform combining MS-based proteomics and machine learning enables the identification of prognostic biomarkers in colorectal cancer patients. Link

Ting Chen and colleagues combine molecular networking with ion mobility MS to improve steroid identification in farm animals. Link 

Psychological stress can change the profile of volatile organic compounds emitted from the skin, finds study correlating questionnaire answers to GC-MS analysis. Link

Untargeted metabolomics analysis reveals the neuroprotective role of 2-phosphoglyceric acid in hypoxic-ischemic brain damage through GPX4/ACSL4 axis regulation. Link

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About the Author
Markella Loi

Associate Editor, The Analytical Scientist

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