ORLANDO, Fla. — When it came to unveiling new proteomics products at this year’s PITTCON meeting, held here this week, Bruker BioSciences dominated the field, launching three new mass spectrometers, three mass-spectrometry accessories, and a benchtop machine for high-throughput protein crystallization (see new products table, p. 3).
Other proteomics players such as Thermo Electron, Waters, and Shimadzu released new proteomics products, but Bruker outnumbered them in terms of the quantity and scope of new proteomics tools.
“We’ve worked very hard to introduce new and innovative products every year, and it’s good to see that we’re innovating more than our competitors,” said Catherine Stacey, director of proteomic systems at Bruker Daltonics.
Not to be outdone, Amy Zumwalt, a proteomics marketing specialist at Thermo Electron, said her company “release[s] new products when we’re ready. We don’t release to respond to our competitors.”
Julian Phillips, an ion trap product specialist at Thermo, added that though Bruker may have launched more products, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the products are the best available.
“We’re getting record mass-spec sales,” he said. “Our customers are able to see peptides they have been unable to see before with other instruments, and that’s the real measure of success.”
Bruker’s highest-priced new release was its micrOTOF-Q ESI-Q-qTOF mass spectrometer — a benchtop model that offers a resolution of 15,000 at full sensitivity, a mass accuracy of 3 ppm, and a high dynamic range. The instrument costs about $500,000, according to Frank Laukien, president and CEO of Bruker Daltonics.
“For the first time, this instrument takes all the power in a floor-standing system and puts it in a benchtop product,” said Laukien during a press conference here.
Laukien added that the micrOTOF-Q can perform 20 full-rate spectra per second. In addition, he said it is suitable for quantitative analysis because of its high dynamic range.
“Quantitation is something that is typically observed by triple quads,” said Laukien. “But this is also a very quantitative instrument.”
Bruker’s new Q-TOF was designed to be used with another new release — the Apollo II ion funnel electrospray ionization source. By increasing the ion-holding capacity by 10 times, the Apollo II funnel raises the sensitivity of the micrOTOF-Q up to ten-fold, according to Bruker.
The Apollo II can also be used with Bruker’s fourier-transform mass spectrometers, especially its apex-Qe line of hybrid Q-q-FTMS mass spec.
And Bruker’s new HCTultra ion trap instrument, priced at about $225,000, is the “fastest and most sensitive LC-ESI/MS ion trap on the market,” the company boasted.
According to Stacey, the instrument’s 26,000/second scan rate and sensitivity enables researchers to detect sub-femtomole levels of digest. In terms of dynamic range, the instrument can handle 103.5 to 104 orders of magnitude, while most ion traps have a 103 range.
The third mass spectrometer released by Bruker is a so-called “starter package” designed for routine peptide and protein analysis. Priced at below $100,000, the microflex LT is “non-intimidating” and especially suitable for clinical laboratories and “non-expert” users, the company said.
“It’s cute, it’s benchtop, it’s compact, it’s easy to use, and very affordable,” said Laukien.
Aside from the Apollo II, Bruker also released two other mass spec accessories — a computer-switchable ESI/MALDI source designed to be used with is floor-standing ULtrOTOF-Q mass spec, and a smartbeam laser designed to be used with MALDI instruments.
Apart from mass spectrometry products, Bruker, in collaboration with is subsidiary Discovery Partners International, released one other new instrument that is significant for protein characterization — the CRYSTAL FARM CF-150 benchtop machine for high-throughput protein crystallization. The instrument uses the same technology as Bruker’s floor-standing CF-400, in a smaller footprint.
Significant new proteomics products released by companies other than Bruker included a new hybrid LCMS-IT-TOF mass spec by Shimadzu, a new end-to-end protein expression package system by Waters, a new benchtop HPLC system by Thermo Electron, and a new type of mass spec source by Agilent.
Priced at $350,000 to $450,000, Shimadzu’s LCMS-IT-TOF combines atmospheric pressure ionization with ion-trap and time-of-flight technologies, according to the company.
It has a mass resolution of 10,000 at 1,000 m/z and a precursor ion selection with resolution of greater than 1,000 at 1,000 m/z.
“Ion trap is great and TOF is great — what we’ve actually done is combine the two into one box,” said Catherine Cogut, LCMS marketing specialist for Shimadzu. “The advantage of this is that the ion trap can do MSn analysis with the mass accuracy and resolution of a TOF.”
Waters’ new Protein Expression System comprises its Micromass Q-Tof Premier Mass Spectrometer, the nanoACQUITY Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography system, specialty columns, and new Expression Informatics tools for MassLynx 4.0. The package system allows scientists to quantitatively assess protein expression and qualitatively identify proteins within the same LC/MS run.
Thermo’s new Finnigan Surveyor Plus HPLC system features a stackable, modular design, and a small footprint. As with Thermo’s other HPLC systems, the Finnigan Surveyor Plus features proprietary LightPipe technology that provides sensitivity up to five times higher than conventional photo diode array detectors.
Agilent’s new Multimode Source for mass spectrometry allows for the simultaneous operation of electrospray ionization and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization modes.
According to the company, different modes of ionization are needed because not all molecules respond to the same mode of ionization.
With the Multimode Source, there is no need to exchange sources when analyzing series of diverse compounds.
It remains to be seen what new proteomics products will be launched at the next major product release venue — the American Society for Mass Spectrometry conference, scheduled to take place June 5-9 in San Antonio, Tex.
Zumwalt said that researchers should expect to see more Thermo Electron product releases at the ASMS show.
“The ASMS is typically a better conference for us to release new products for mass spec,” she said. “You should expect to see a few different additions.”