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Bruker provides a green solution for Synlab association
January 2010
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author


BERLIN, Germany—Bruker Daltonics will provide Synlab, a private association that operates more than 70 diagnostic laboratories in European countries, with Bruker's MALDI-TOF mass spectrometers to conduct molecular microbial identification, the companies announced in December.


Synlab and Bruker have concluded a long-term partnership agreement in order to equip the laboratories of the Synlab association exclusively with the MALDI Biotyper system. The MALDI Biotyper is already in routine use in Synlab's clinical microbiology centers in Trier, Weiden and Dachau in Germany. Bruker and Synlab plan to further enlarge and refine the MALDI Biotyper reference library using well-defined clinical isolates from the daily microbiology work of the Synlab laboratories.


There were three main reasons for Synlab's acquisition of the MALDI-TOF Biotyper, notes Dr. Ulrich Knipp, technical head of microbiology at Synlab (Trier): improvement of quality, reduction of the turnaround time and costs.


"The MALDI-TOF-technology is a quick method for reliable identification of microorganisms in a progressive microbiological routine-laboratory," he says. "Even microorganisms which cannot be easily identified under conventional routine conditions, can be identified with this method, rapidly and without special efforts and costs. Thereby, other expensive and time-consuming methods such as sequence analysis, can be reduced to a minimum. Last but not least, the MALDI Biotyper is a green method, reducing the waste produced by biochemical identification kits normally used."


Synlab also regards Bruker as the leader in mass spectroscopy and especially in proteomics. And in contrast to the competitor that was considered, Bruker bundled the mass spectrometer as well as the necessary controlling and interpretation software in one package.


The MALDI Biotyper is integrated into the Synlab laboratories' microbiology workflow, combining fast molecular identification with conventional antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST). The instrument reports the identification results into the existing laboratory information systems (LIS). Integration with LIS MCS (, Medat ( and Vision4health ( has already been established for Synlab, while integration with other LIS providers is also possible.

Dr. Guido Mix, director of microbiology at Bruker Daltonics, notes that the MALDI Biotyper enables an unbiased identification of microorganisms.


"It can be applied to gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, yeast and multicellular fungi without any presumptions or pre-testing," he says.


Starting from culture plates, identification results can be generated in a couple of minutes. The instrument is a protein mass fingerprinting method that matches spectra from samples to library spectra. High-abundance proteins, such as ribosomal and other housekeeping proteins, are analyzed and that's the reason why the MALDI Biotyper is very robust providing highly reproducible molecular results, he states.


Measuring the protein's mass by the MALDI-TOF technology is a very fast process. Initially, the samples are fixed in a crystallized matrix on the so-called MALDI target. In the initial ionization process the crystals with the sample are removed from the target by a laser. The sample molecules are vaporized into the vacuum. Afterwards, high voltage is applied to accelerate the charged particles. In a second step, the accelerated molecules are separated due to the different flight-time they need based on their mass. Measuring the time it takes for the sample molecules to reach the detector allows for a calculation of their respective mass.


Fundamental to the MALDI Biotyper is the well-established library, Mix notes, which comprises thousands of individual strains and is growing continuously.


"In close cooperation with our partners—for example, the German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures (DSMZ), and more than a dozen clinical laboratories—a reference library with reliably characterized strains as well as clinical isolates has been built up and is continuously enlarged," he says. "Our framework contract with Synlab validates our efforts to provide comprehensive service and applications support to our customers by our microbiologists, fully developed technicians network and IT specialists for integration into various laboratory information systems (LIS)."

Code: E011015



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