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ABI and Bruker Daltonics Go Head-to-Head for MALDI TOF/TOF Market

PHILADELPHIA, July 31 – The race to release the MALDI TOF/TOF mass spectrometer is on.

At the 15 th  Symposium of The Protein Society in Philadelphia this week, Bruker Daltonics said it would release a version of the high-throughput protein analysis instrument that would compete directly with Applied Biosytems' MALDI TOF/TOF machine, now in beta testing.

Bruker Daltonics’ CEO Frank Laukien told GenomeWeb that his company would be able to deliver its MALDI (matrix assisted laser desorption ionization) TOF/TOF (time of flight) instruments by the end of the year, about the same time that ABI said it would begin delivering its instruments. ABI has about 10 to 12 of its MALDI TOF/TOF systems in beta  at test sites such as Oxford GlycoSciences in Oxford, UK, and Celera Genomics of Rockville, Md.

Barry Pritchard, an ABI sales rep, said the company would begin in December shipping the instrument to customers not associated with the early access program. According to Laukien, internal testing of the Bruker Daltonics MALDI TOF/TOF negated the need for an early access program.

Both companies said they are taking orders for the instruments now, but in reality, most customers will wait until they compare the two instruments in demonstration tests, said Laukien. Bruker Daltonics plans to charge $575,000 for its system. While an ABI spokesperson said that company would not disclose its price prior to the system’s launch, an ABI salesperson told GenomeWeb at the May American Society of Mass Spectrometry meeting in Chicago that its version of the instrument would sell for approximately $750,000.

The MALDI TOF/TOF should allow researchers to much more rapidly analyze and identify proteins because the highly sensitive mass spectrometry techniques currently available cannot ionize the protein samples as quickly as the MALDI technique. Laukien said that analysis that requires 45 minutes to an hour using electrospray ionization take only two to three minutes with the MALDI TOF/TOF. 

In addition to the higher throughput capabilities, the MALDI TOF/TOF should also provide greater sensitivity than the ordinary MALDI TOF instrument for identifying the amino acid sequences of proteins on a large scale. Because analyzing proteins by mass spectrometry requires that the protein be broken up into small fragments or digested, finely detailed mass spectra are required to piece each protein back together after a mass analysis. 

Bruker Daltonics and ABI are the only companies currently offering MALDI TOF/TOF in the marketplace.

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