A resource for cellular metabolism

Agilent teams with University of Toronto on metabolomics library

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SANTA CLARA, Calif.— Scientists at the University of Toronto’s main biomedical research laboratory will soon have a sophisticated new resource to support their studies of cellular metabolism. Agilent Technologies has announced that it is entering a collaboration with the university that will result in the creation of a comprehensive metabolomics multiple-reaction monitoring (MRM) library at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.
The partnership will give scientists access to technologies that will allow them to accelerate the quantification of hundreds of metabolically important compounds for cell biology and disease research. “Routine metabolite quantification plays an essential role in helping scientists understand how diseases modify metabolic pathways,” Steve Fischer, market director for Agilent’s Life Science Research Division, tells DDNews. “The development of a routine, targeted metabolite MRM method and MRM library will make available a targeted metabolomics solution that will be used by many researchers worldwide.”
Metabolomics is an field of research that aims to compare the relative differences between biological samples based on their metabolite profiles. It can provide researchers an instantaneous snapshot of the entire physiology of an organism.
The system at the heart of the partnership involves Agilent’s Infinity 1290 UHPLC and 6460 triple quadrupole mass spectrometry technologies. “This high-performance, workhorse system will allow scientists at the Donnelly Centre to analyze thousands of biological samples a month to support targeted, high-throughput metabolomics studies,” says Fischer. This mass spectrometry process will be conducted after a researcher has already completed a biological hypothesis of which metabolic pathways are implicated in a disease process. The system will help confirm and quantify specific metabolites on a large, statistically valid sample set.
Agilent will work with Drs. Amy Caudy and Adam Rosebrock at the Donnelly Centre to create the MRM library and methodology. The MRM library will be a database that contains compound information and fragmentation spectra of MRM transitions and their optimal collision energy and other method information, such as retention time. This database will allow users the flexibility to select which metabolites they wish to analyze using Agilent’s mass spectrometry system.
The collaboration originated when Caudy and Rosebrock purchased instruments from Agilent in 2010 for metabolomics shortly after arriving at the University of Toronto. Agilent remained in touch with the researchers, and after several years the researchers saw an opportunity for a collaborative relationship. “We are impressed with Agilent’s mass spectrometry instruments and software solutions, and we look forward to working together to enable use of LC-MS metabolomics by a larger scientific audience,” according to Rosebrock, a principal investigator whose lab focuses on understanding the biochemistry underlying cell growth and division.
Agilent is a measurement company that designs and manufactures a wide range of instruments used in chemical analysis, life sciences, diagnostics, electronics and communications. The company offers several instruments for the study of metabolomics. These tools enable users to conduct research in a diverse range of areas, including toxicology, environmental analysis, agriculture, biofuel development and nutrition. Metabolomics results can also be used to supplement gene expression or proteomics studies.
Fischer tells DDNews he expects the new metabolomics MRM library to be completed in the fall of 2015. It will be added to Agilent’s existing collection of MRM libraries, which address a variety of applications, including pesticides, veterinary drugs, forensics and toxicology.
Agilent uses collaborations as a key component of its strategy to maintain strong ties with current and prospective customers. “Through customer collaborations, Agilent learns about the customer problem in great detail so that we can satisfy that customer’s challenge and offer the solution to the many customers that have similar problems,” says Fischer. “This relationship is one of many that Agilent has with customers.
“Agilent is already a leader in untargeted, discovery mass spectometry based metabolomics, and the development of a routine, targeted metabolite MRM method and MRM library will establish Agilent as a leader in targeted MS-based metabolomics.”

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