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ABI/MDS Launch MALDI MS to Re-energize Venture

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Life Technologies' Applied Biosystems and its mass spectrometry joint-venture partner MDS launched the AB Sciex TOF/TOF 5800 mass spectrometer, the second major launch by the firms in the past six months as they try to turn around a slumping mass spec operation.

The introduction follows the simultaneous launches in October of the AB Sciex Triple Quad 5500 and AB Sciex QTrap 5500, which broke a years-long drought during which the lack of a major introduction in the space dragged down the mass spec business for both companies and put them in a position of playing catch-up with competitors.

In launching the 5800, officials from both ABI and MDS call it the "fastest and most sensitive MALDI-based mass spectrometer ever built." New technological improvements to the instrument include a 1 kilohertz OptiBeam on-access laser, "which provides ultra-fast ionization accelerating the analysis of proteins," says Andy Boorn, president of MDS Analytical Technologies.

Speed is further enhanced by a new dynamic exit algorithm that "minimizes the number of laser shots needed" for protein identification, he adds. According to ABI/MDS, the 5800 increases the speed of protein identification 10 times over other MALDI systems while increasing the number of proteins identified by 30 percent.

Other technological advances offered by the system include an easy access wizard providing a single-page interface that guides users on how to set up acquisition parameters and streamlines the process, and a programmable, self-cleaning MALDI source for easy maintenance and extended uptime, Boorn says.

Laura Lauman, president of Life Technologies' mass spectrometry division, says that with the new capabilities of the 5800, scientists would be now able to achieve in one day what would take weeks on other systems.

"With this launch we've taken a giant leap forward in how biomarker studies can now be conducted," she says.

Tony Fong


Proteomics Notes

The German Society for Certification and Management Systems granted Ima¬Genes ISO 9001:2008 certification for its genomics and proteomics services.

The Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities' Protein Sequence Research Group is looking for new members. The group develops studies to assess the state of the art in analyzing terminal amino acid sequences.

Life Technologies' Invitrogen has introduced a new kit, Gibco OptiCho Protein Express Kit, for developing serum-free, stable cell lines for biotherapeutic development.

Vermillion has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing a "global liquidity crisis." The company is still seeking approval for its ovarian tumor triage diagnostic from the US FDA.


Datapoint

$1.1 million
Amount Intrinsic Bioprobes will receive from the National ¬Cancer Institute to study cancer-related proteins and peptides.


Funded Grants

$265,558/FY 2009
Inhibition of Protein-Protein Contactsin VEGF Transcription by Synthetic Helices
Grantee: Paramjit Arora, New York University
Began: Dec. 1, 2008; Ends: Nov. 30, 2010

Chronic hypoxia, which is a mark of many cancers, leads to elevated VEGF levels and altered energy metabolism. With this grant, Arora plans to develop artificial helices to inhibit the transcription factor-coactivator complex regulating hypoxia, evaluate their binding thermodynamics, and test their ability to disrupt the gene transcription brought on by hypoxia-inducible factor 1.

$307,000/FY 2009
Molecular Regulation of Erythroid Differentiation
Grantee: Min Chen, Baylor College of Medicine
Began: Jan. 15, 2009; Ends: Dec. 31, 2013

Chen hypothesizes that Nix, a regulator of mitochondrial clearance in differentiating erythroid cells, is also needed for mitochondrial autophagy. Chen will be studying Nix- and autophagy-deficient mice as well as an erythroleukemic cell line to study "downstream molecules mediating Nix-induced mitochondrial autophagy" through immunoprecipiation and proteomics approaches.

The Scan

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Family Genetic Risk Score Linked to Diagnostic Trajectory in Psychiatric Disorders

Researchers in JAMA Psychiatry find ties between high or low family genetic risk scores and diagnostic stability or change in four major psychiatric disorders over time.

Study Questions Existence of Fetal Microbiome

A study appearing in Nature this week suggests that the reported fetal microbiome might be the result of sample contamination.

Fruit Fly Study Explores Gut Microbiome Effects on Circadian Rhythm

With gut microbiome and gene expression experiments, researchers in PNAS see signs that the microbiome contributes to circadian rhythm synchronicity and stability in fruit flies.