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Techniques & Tools Mass Spectrometry

What’s New in Mass Spec?

More on NASA’s Ocean World’s Life Surveyor
 

And as we reported in last month’s roundup, the next big hope for finding extraterrestrial life in the solar system are the ice-moons of Europa and Enceladus, which NASA will be exploring with their Ocean World’s Life Surveyor (OWLS), a package of instruments including a coupling of capillary electrophoresis and – you guessed it – MS. The major challenge is getting the data back to Earth – apparently just 0.01 percent is the limit. To overcome the problem, NASA has developed some bespoke software that can analyze, summarize, and prioritize data from the mass spec, which will be exploring the molecules in water samples.  It’s a fascinating challenge and, as co-principal investigator and science lead Peter Willis discussed in this interview with The Daily Beast, one that could improve things here on Earth too – which you can check out here.

Targeting Tau Phosphorylation 
 

Hyperphosphorylation of the protein tau is a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), so any protein kinases that phosphorylate tau represent hot targets for new drugs. To aid the search, researchers from Purdue University, USA, have developed a novel proteomic strategy called fluorescence complementation mass spectrometry (FCMS), which helps identify novel tau-associated kinases. The evidently powerful method was able to detect 59 tau-associated kinases, including 23 known kinases and 36 candidate kinases. 

Over the Limit
 

Industrial hemp is becoming a popular choice for livestock feedstuffs, but what effect does it have on the food chain – and could we be getting more than we bargained for in our dairy products? Researchers from Germany conducted a feeding experiment, where one group of dairy cows were fed cannabinoid-rich industrial hemp silage, while the other group were fed a low cannabinoid variety. Their milk, blood plasma, and feces were collected and analyzed using LC-MS/MS to quantify cannabinoid concentration. Cows fed with high levels of THC produced less milk and exhibited a negative change in heart rate, respiratory rate, and behavior. The team detected concentrations of up to 316 µg THC per kg of milk in these same animals – levels that could potentially exceed the acute reference dose in some population groups in several milk consumption scenarios.

Miniature mass spec for malaria
 

Malaria is a killer disease and current methods for detecting it – including light microscopy, rapid diagnostic tests based on enzyme-linked immunoassay, and polymerase chain reactions – have limitations. However, researchers from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, and the University of Ohio, USA, have come up with an MS-based diagnostic platform that uses a 2D paper microfluidic device and a miniature mass spectrometer. The authors suggest that the stability and sensitivity of the platform will allow miniature mass spectrometers to be used for point-of-care malaria detection, as well as in large-scale surveillance screening.

Also in the News...


Flow-injection time-of-flight mass spectrometry reveals that diet, genetics and gut microbiome shape human plasma metabolome. Link

For first time, coulometric mass spectrometry (CMS) quantifies multiple proteins from mixture sample in one run – with no need for internal standards – and detects protein deamidation. Link 

MS-based method suggests that increase in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids decreases symptom severity and improves cognition in psychosis patients. Link 

MS-based diagnostic test for those with genetic predisposition to breast cancer analyzes protein levels in blood, offering potential solution for personalized screening and early-stage diagnosis. Link

GC-MS combined with multivariate statistical approaches reveals protective function of luteolin against oxidative stress, which is often linked to neurodegenerative disease. Link 

MALDI with Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTICR MS) detects lipids in human serum and human serum exosomes – showing comparable lipid profiles. Link

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About the Author
Margot Lespade

Associate Editor, The Analytical Scientist

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