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(Boston, MA) — Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) recently achieved first signal on the Cryogenic Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization-Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-FTMS) being developed at the school’s Cardiovascular Proteomics Center (CPC). The Fourier transform mass spectrometer is the highest performance instrumentation currently available to those interested in structural characterization of proteins and other biomolecules.
“When working to its full capacity, the Cryogenic MALDI-FTMS will greatly enhance how we study and understand disease,” says Peter B. O’Connor, PhD, research associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry at BUSM and assistant director of the BUSM Mass Spectrometry Resource. “This technology will give us an unbiased view of a disease by identifying proteins by comparing their peptides to those predicted from a DNA database, which helps identify biomarkers for disease.” O’Connor goes on to add that this new technology will also allow researchers to identify which proteins are where during certain stages of disease progression, enabling them to more positively identify disease and decide upon treatment options.
The Cryogenic MALDI-FTMS is a major advance in Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance (FTICR) mass spectrometry design. It enables MALDI-FTMS at extremely low temperatures and involves close construction and integration of an FTICR instrument with a modern cryogenic superconducting magnet design.
This configuration provides three major advantages. First, the magnet bore and FTICR cell chamber become very cold, which cryopumps the chamber and decreases the base pressure. Second, because of the cryopumping, the bore tube diameter can be much smaller, allowing high homogeneity and high magnetic fields to be generated at greatly reduced cost. Third, the cold surfaces can be used to cool a preamplifier for improved signal-to-noise ratio.
The BUSM prototype instrument is designed with a 14 Tesla magnet at ~10 ppm homogeneity over the 2”x2” cylindrical ICR cell. When fully tuned, this instrument will provide performance several orders of magnitude better than existing instruments, using parts that cost about half as much and a magnet costing about four times less.
This instrument is funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the National Center for Research Resources.