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Waters' Next-Generation Synapt and Thermo Fisher's Velos Line Lead New MS Launches at ASMS

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This story originally ran on June 2.

PHILADELPHIA – While a number of vendors used this year's American Society for Mass Spectrometry annual conference to showcase instruments launched earlier in the year, Waters and Thermo Fisher Scientific were the only vendors to launch new mass specs at the meeting held here this week.

Five years after the launch of its Synapt HDMS platform, Waters on Monday launched the next generation of its flagship mass spectrometer, the Synapt G2, while Thermo introduced its LTQ Velos and LTQ Orbitrap Velos.

In the past, ASMS served as a key launching pad for major new mass specs. This year, however, several vendors chose not to wait until the conference to take their latest systems to market. Life Technologies division Applied Biosystems, Bruker, and even Waters each launched significant new platforms before the conference [see PM 04/30/09].

Isaac Ro, an analyst at investment firm Leerink Swann, recently told ProteoMonitor that trade shows such as ASMS have lost some of their cachet as showcases for new products since many companies have set up their own facilities to demo their technologies and researchers are reevaluating their travel plans in light of shrinking budgets.

But against a backdrop of continuing challenges in the broader economy and competition among manufacturers for potential sales stemming from the various economic stimulus initiatives in the US and elsewhere, this year's meeting still served as a valuable forum for these companies to differentiate their products. It also carried weight as a venue for vendors to highlight their wares for those researchers who may still be in the market for a new instrument.

Several of the new platforms on display at this year's meeting have particular use for proteomics research. According to some vendors here, the proteomics sector has been relatively shielded from the tough economic landscape even as other parts of their mass spec businesses are suffering in comparison.

Below is a summary of products that the major mass spec vendors highlighted this week.

Waters: 'New Heights' for Synapt

Ever since the Synapt was introduced at ASMS in 2004, Waters has hailed it as the new standard in mass spectrometry and made it the centerpiece of its instrument portfolio.

The new Synapt G2 instrument will, no doubt, assume the same role with company officials saying it takes qualitative and quantitative quadupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry to "new heights."

Though it carries the Synapt name, an official told ProteoMonitor that technologically the G2 is completely different from the original platform. In fact, the old Synapt cannot be upgraded to the G2 version. The company kept the Synapt name for branding reasons and because of customer loyalty to the Synapt line, said Brian Smith, Waters' vice president for mass spec business operations.

The original Synapt will eventually be discontinued though there is no timeline for that yet, he said, and will depend on how quickly the new system is adopted.

According to the company, the Synapt G2 has resolution in excess of 40,000 FWHM, data acquisition of 20 spectra per second, exact mass information at 1 ppm RMS and a dynamic range of up to five orders of magnitude.

The instrument features Waters' new QuanTof technology "that combines an innovative high field pusher and dual stage reflectron with a novel ion detection system in an optimized, folded, TOF geometry," the company said in a statement. The Synapt G2, it added, provides a dimension of resolution, exact mass, and quantitation available at acquisition rates compatible with UPLC separations.

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Indeed, during a press conference, company officials said that though competing spectrometers can be linked to its Acquity UPLC system, the G2 in combination with the Acquity would result in higher mass resolution and chromatographic resolution than if the Acquity were coupled with another mass spec.

Compared to the first-generation Synapt, this new iteration has resolving power up to four times higher and a dynamic range at least 20 times higher, said Tim Riley, vice president and managing director for pharmaceutical business operations. For proteomics research, that translates to faster acquisition of data, better mass accuracy, and more protein and peptide identifications with greater confidence, the company said.

Thermo Fisher: More Sensitivity

The LTQ Velos features a new dual-pressure trap and advanced ion optics making it the world's fastest and most sensitive ion trap mass spec, Thermo Fisher said.

According to Lester Taylor, director of life sciences mass spec marketing for the firm, the instrument provides faster and richer MSn spectra for greater structural elucidation, offers sensitivity five to 10 times greater than comparable platforms, and can identify twice as many peptides and proteins.

Compared to Thermo Fisher's LTQ XL, the Velos identified 72 percent more proteins. Compared to another, undisclosed, firm's "leading" Q-TOF, the Velos identified 240 percent more proteins, Taylor said.

According to the company, the data quality and sensitivity of the platform "make it ideal for the analysis of complex mixtures," such as low-level proteins. "For proteomics applications, the improvements in speed and sensitivity provide greater coverage in the analysis of complex peptide mixtures, increasing the confidence of protein identification at low sample levels," it added.

The Velos can also be upgraded to the LTQ Orbitrap Velos, which combines the mass accuracy and resolution of Thermo Fisher's flagship Orbitrap technology with the increased sensitivity and improved cycle time of the Velos platform.

Capabilities of the Orbitrap Velos include fewer false positives, the ability to determine the molecular weight for intact proteins, and in-depth analysis of isobaric species. In total these add up to greater sequence coverage and improved protein identifications, the company said.

The Orbitrap Velos achieves 60.41 percent sequence coverage, compared to 37.5 percent sequence coverage on the LTQ Orbitrap XL.

The platform is an addition to the Orbitrap line of mass specs, said Iain Mylchreest, vice president and general manager of life sciences mass specs, and there are no plans to faze out any other Orbitrap instruments.

Agilent Technologies: 6540 and 6430

Aglient launched two new platforms: the 6540 Ultra-High-Definition Accurate-Mass Q-TOF, and the 6430 Triple-Quadrupole LC-MS system.

Calling the 6540 instrument the "highest-performing benchtop Q-TOF" on the market, Agilent said it features Jet Stream thermal gradient-focusing technology to provide high femtogram MS/MS sensitivity; up to 500 ppb mass accuracy; data acquisition speeds of up to 20 spectra per second for compatibility with Agilent's new 1290 UHPLC; up to five orders of in-spectrum dynamic range; up to 40,000 mass resolution; and high-definition isotopic fidelity.

Agilent will begin taking orders for the platform starting July 1 and begin shipping it in the fall, said Gus Salem, vice president and general manager of the company's Biological Systems Division.

The 6430 is the next generation of the firm's 6410 instrument with improvements in sensitivity, faster monitoring of ions, and faster polarity switching.

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An additional turbo pump allows for better ion transmission and sensitivity while the 6430 is able to switch from positive ion mode to negative ion mode in 30 ms.

The instrument is suited for protein biomarker discovery and validation, as well as food safety and water analysis, Agilent said, adding it is shipping the instrument now.

Shimadzu: a New Axima

A year ago at Pittcon, Shimadzu launched a revamped line of its Axima mass specs as part of an efforts to raise its profile in the life-sciences market in North America [see PM 03/06/08]. This week, it introduced the Axima Resonance MALDI QIT TOF for structural characterization and sequencing of biomolecules as a continuing part of that strategy.

According to the firm, the instrument combines a quadruole ion trap with a reflectron time-of-flight analyzer to provide high sensitivity and mass accuracy.

The company's Hypercool technology facilitates the use of MALDI matrices to allow MALDI-compatible peptides, glycans, and other biomolecules to be analyzed in positive and negative ion modes. It has an isolation resolution of more than 1,000 allowing for the analysis of samples with similar minimal mass — "even those with overlapping isotopic distributions," the company said.

Scott Kuzdzal, life science business leader for biotech products for Shimadzu, told ProteoMonitor that the company also is collaborating with startup Ceres Nanosciences to develop a separations and sample preparation platform that could be incorporated with the Axima line of mass specs for a complete workflow. Shimadzu late last year reached a distribution deal with Nonlinear Dynamics on its Progenesis software for the Axima mass specs.

Earlier this year, the company released the PPSQ Edman sequencer in North America for the first time to fill a void in that space created when ABI stopped making its Procise line of Edman sequencers [see PM 01/2/09].

Kuzdzal said that the firm was seeing interest in the platform in South America as well as North America. At Pittcon in March, Bruker launched its Edmass mass spec-based Edman sequencing platform, but Kuzdzal said he did not believe the Edmass would substantially eat into the potential market for the PPSQ instrument as all mass-spec based de novo sequencing technologies have limitations compared to Edman sequencers.

Bruker: Highlighting Recent Launches

Arnd Ingendon, vice president of European sales for Bruker, however, took a different view, saying that a recent study by the Protein Sequence Research Group of the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities suggested that for certain protein-sequencing work, the Edmass performed as well or better than an Edman sequencer [see PM 02/12/09].

Indeed, ASMS was mostly an opportunity for the firm to spotlight instrument launches during the past year rather than a venue to push forward new launches. New technology that the firm was showcasing included the ultrafleXtreme MALDI-TOF/TOF, which debuted in April, the solariX FTMS launched in May, and the amaZon ion trap that was also introduced last month.

ABI: mTraq Reagents

After its launch of the QTrap 5500 and Triple Quad 5500 in October, and the TOF/TOF 5800 two months ago, Applied Biosystems limited its ASMS releases to the mTraq triplex reagents for the labeling of proteins in complex samples for targeted quantitation.

According to ABI, the reagents make biomarker verification more accurate, doubling the throughput of analysis, "which is expected to accelerate the use of increasing numbers of biomarkers in clinical settings," it said in a statement.

In addition, the company introduced the Cliquid 3.0 software for contaminant testing and forensic analysis, and the Cliquid MPX-2 high-throughput workflow to accelerate productivity for pharmaceutical and clinical research.

The mTraq, Cliquid software, and workflow were all released in conjunction with MDS Analytical Technologies, ABI's joint-venture partner on mass spec products.

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