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New Mass Specs from Waters, Thermo, Shimadzu Make Impressions at ASMS


SEATTLE — New high-end mass spectrometers made a big impression here this week at the American Society for Mass Spectrometry conference, with Waters releasing a new category of mass spec that differentiates ions by size and shape, as well as mass; Thermo releasing updates to its LTQ and LTQ FT; and Shimadzu releasing an update to its AXIMA CFR plus.

In addition, Agilent launched a family of four new single quadrupole mass spectrometers that range in price from $85,000 to a little over $100,000.

Waters' new Synapt High Definition Mass Spectrometry, or HDMS, system features the company's Triwave technology. The technology features an ion trap; ion mobility-based separation within an electric field that separates ions based on their shape and size; and mass quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry that performs traditional mass and charge analysis, explained Mary Ellen Goffredo, director of product marketing at Waters.

Asked how the Synapt differs from conventional, high-resolution Fourier transform mass specs, Alan Miller, product manager for the Synapt HDMS system, said that with FTMS "you can distinguish similar m/z values, but not the shapes of the ions. With Synapt, you can take identical m/z values and separate based on shape."

With FTMS "you can distinguish similar m/z values, but not the shapes of the ions. With Synapt, you can take identical m/z values and separate based on shape."

One of the first research groups to test the Synapt technology was a structural biology team at the University of Cambridge led by Carol Robinson, said Goffredo. The group used the new technology to help demonstrate that the gas phase structures of intact, multi-protein complexes, though devoid of bulk content, are essentially equivalent to native solvated structures.

"There was a tremendous ability to show new information about samples," said Goffredo.

The Synapt HDMS system costs about $650,000. It is expected to ship in the second half of 2006, Waters said.

Thermo Introduces ETD Capabilities

In Thermo's corner, the main improvement of its new LTQ XL over its previous LTQ is that the LTQ XL can perform electron transfer dissociation and pulsed-Q dissociation, in addition to traditional collision-induced dissociation, said Ken Miller, proteomics product marketing manager at Thermo.

"When you combine CID with ETD, you get better information than before," said Miller. "The two [dissociation] methods are complementary — they break apart the peptide backbones at a different place."

Using Thermo's new instrument, researchers can do "middle-down sequencing," said Miller. First, they use CID to break the peptide into big "chunks." Then they do ETD on the big segment of interest.

"It's too complicated with just ETD; there [are] too many fragments, and you won't figure out the fragments," said Miller. "If you first fragment using CID and then do ETD on the big chunk, that works well. We've tried this stuff out."

Miller maintained that ETD implemented on an LTQ XL offers a great sensitivity advantage over competitors' ETD-capable instruments, such as Bruker's HCTultra (see ProteoMonitor 4/13/2006).

"The LTQ can store a huge number of charges — 15 times what competitors' so-called 'high-capacity' traps can store," said Miller. "We're firmly convinced that the 2D implementation of ETD is vastly superior to any implementation on a 3D trap."

In addition to performing ETD, the LTQ XL also has the ability to perform proton transfer reactions — another type of fragmentation technique that reduces all charge states of fragments to just one charge state.

"This is the first commercially available PTR instrument," said Miller. "However, I must tell you that though the capability is there, the software to control PTR is still three to four months away. A future version of Bioworks will probably support all of this."

Thermo also launched here this week the LTQ FT Ultra. The new instrument has parts-per-billion mass accuracy, compared to a mass accuracy of about two parts per million for the original LTQ FT. The new instrument has also more than doubled its dynamic range to between 4,000 and 5,000, compared with about 2,000 for the LTQ FT.

"For proteomic biomarker discovery and validation, you really need the sensitivity of a triple quad. But for the pharma industry, with quality assurance and quality control, there's really a lot of value in [single quadrupole mass spectrometers]."

"The key is inside the ICR cell of the magnet," said Miller. "The new grid cell has a much larger volume that it can fill with ions, resulting in increased sensitivity and dynamic range. In addition, with the new cell, the ions are traveling closer to the electrodes, which results in a bigger current, which results in increased sensitivity."

According to Miller, though the LTQ FT Ultra contains a seven-Tesla magnet, it has the sensitivity and mass accuracy of a 12T instrument.

Miller declined to give prices on the LTQ XL and the LTQ FT Ultra but said that they cost around the same as their predecessors.

Shimadzu's AXIMA Update

The key to Shimadzu's new vertical-standing AXIMA-TOF2 is its improved curved field reflectron technology, which allows very high energy collision-induced dissociation without the loss of ions on the ion path, said Emmanuel Raptakis, product manager for MALDI-TOF instruments at Shimadzu (see ProteoMonitor 5/18/2006).

In addition, the AXIMA-TOF2 has a high-resolution ion gate that allows for precursor ion selection.

The new instrument costs about $250,000. It is currently available for order. The time from order to delivery is about 60 days, according to Raptakis.

Agilent's Single Quads

Agilent said its new 6100 Series of single quadrupole mass spectrometers are well suited for quantitatively analyzing single matrices, from fast-scanning new drug compounds to quantifying trace levels of environmental toxins.

"For proteomic biomarker discovery and validation, you really need the sensitivity of a triple quad," said Patrick Carberry, senior director of LC/MS marketing at Agilent. "But for the pharma industry, with quality assurance and quality control, there's really a lot of value in these instruments."

Carberry said the new single quad series is part of Agilent's plan to bring these kinds of instruments to traditional chemists and biologists.

— Tien-Shun Lee ([email protected])

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