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An easy way to find a needle in a haystack by removing the haystack
Date:6/18/2009

This release is available in German.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena and their colleagues from the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague have developed a new method to quickly and reliably detect metabolites, such as sugars, fatty acids, amino acids and other organic substances from plant or animal tissue samples. One drop of blood -- less than one micro liter -- is sufficient to identify certain blood related metabolites.

The new technique, called MAILD, is based on classical mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/MS) and enables researchers to measure a large number of metabolites in biological samples, opening doors for targeted and high-throughput metabolomics. Because of its versatile applications, also in medical diagnostics, the invention is protected by patent.

Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique used to elucidate the molecular composition and structure of chemical compounds. In the last two decades mass spectrometry found vast applications in biology, especially for analyzing of large biomolecules. Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization (MALDI), wherein bio-molecules (e.g. proteins) are co-crystallized with a chemical substance called a matrix subsequently irradiated with a laser leads to the formation of protein ions which can be analyzed and detected.

However, matrices used in the MALDI technique have a substantial disadvantage: the laser beam not only forms ions from the substances of interest; it also forms low-mass ions (<500 Da) originating from the matrix. "Because of these small interfering ions we were not able to analyze small molecules that play crucial roles in the metabolism of organisms," explains Ale Svato, head of the mass spectrometry/proteomics research group at the Max Planck Institute. "The ions that originated from conventional matrices were like a haystack in w
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Contact: Dr. Ale Svato
svatos@ice.mpg.de
49-036-415-71700
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Source:Eurekalert  

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