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With $5.6M from Genome Canada, MDS Sciex To Develop Sample Prep, MALDI Technology


MDS Sciex plans to use $5.6 million awarded this month by Genome Canada, an arm of the Canadian government with a mandate to stimulate genomics and proteomics research, to expand its R&D collaborations with Canadian universities in the areas of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer development and sample handling and preparation, Sciex president Andy Boorn told ProteoMonitor.

Sciex had applied for funding from Genome Canada for a wide array of research initiatives, Boorn said, but Genome Canada has yet to release the full details of which projects it will fund. Nevertheless, Boorn said Sciex would collaborate with academic groups at the University of Alberta, Laval University, Queen’s University, and Ken Standing’s group at the University of Manitoba. Under the arrangement, Sciex will match Genome Canada’s contribution with an additional $5.6 million.

One of the projects that apparently did not receive Genome Canada funding is an ongoing relationship with Signature BioScience to develop multipole coupling spectroscopy technology, Boorn said. He added that the company’s other R&D projects that did not receive Genome Canada money are also applicable to protein analysis. “We’re going to have to review whether we can raise other funding for [that work] or not,” he said.

Genome Canada has yet to disburse the funds, and Boorn said he expected a time lag of a few months before the details are ironed out. In a previous round of Genome Canada funding, Boorn said the money took about a year to arrive, but that this time the organization is expecting the process to happen much faster.

Sciex hopes to use the partly publicly funded academic collaborations to help generate pieces of technology and tools for its efforts to develop a MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer, an initiative undertaken jointly with PerkinElmer, and to develop a linear ion trap mass spectrometer, Boorn said. The company’s current proteomics-focused product line consists primarily of the QSTAR, a Q-TOF instrument, which is compatible with both electrospray and MALDI ionization sources.

The linear ion trap spectrometer is less susceptible to space-charge effects, Boorn said, and should therefore allow a greater number of ions to be constrained within the trap. The resulting advantages in reproducibility and sensitivity over the conventional cylindrical ion trap mass spectrometer, combined with the additional scanning modes available on the new instrument, should appeal to proteomics researchers, he added.

A Sciex scientist described the linear ion trap spectrometer in a paper in the March 30 issue of Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry.

But Boorn said Sciex’ long-term plan is to expand more aggressively into the proteomics market, by developing other types of products in addition to mass spectrometers.

“In the future the sorts of things you’ll see from us are other types of technologies that can be used for the identification, or the study of proteins, or protein-protein interactions, or protein-ligand interactions, and also potentially ways to handle proteomics-type samples, perhaps separation/isolation type technologies,” he said.


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