AB SCIEX and ETH Zurich Institute join forces to advance systems biology

Collaboration to create new methods on AB SCIEX QTRAP 5500 System for faster and broader quantitative analysis in support of metabolomics studies

Lloyd Dunlap
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FOSTER CITY, Calif.—AB SCIEX, a new Danaher Corp. business that combines the former Applied Biosystems/MDS Analytical Technologies joint venture into a single operating company, has announced that it is working with scientists at the ETH Zurich Institute of Molecular Systems Biology as part of the Swiss Systems Biology Program (SystemsX.ch) to accelerate analysis and improve results for metabolomics, the scientific study of chemical processes involving metabolites.  

The joint effort is focused on developing quantitative, broad-coverage, high-throughput metabolomics for systems biology based on AB SCIEX's mass spectrometry technology to help provide a better view into living organisms.   

Led by Dr. Nicola Zamboni and Dr. Uwe Sauer, the team of scientists at ETH is currently using the AB SCIEX QTRAP 5500 System to develop a new method that will reduce the time to conduct quantitative analysis of metabolites from approximately one hour to fewer than five minutes, while delivering comprehensive results, Sauer states.

This advancement will speed up the availability of critical information relevant for analyzing biological systems. Scientists around the world will be able to use the method to better analyze how metabolite levels are related to metabolic fluxes and protein levels within complex networks.

"We want to achieve a fast, quantitative and comprehensive analysis of metabolites in cells, fluids and extract," Sauer says, adding, "We're not quite there yet, but we've run a number of tests and are pretty sure we can do it."

The goal is to develop a standard and generalized procedure that is not restricted to a particular research objective, he notes.

Sauer, who is a professor of systems biology at the Swiss institute, explains: "Our partnering with AB SCIEX on new method development for metabolomics will drive the field of systems biology forward by addressing the need for more quantitative, comprehensive data that can be quickly obtained. The new method we are currently developing could be used for any analysis of any biological system. The AB SCIEX technology gives us unique capabilities to get the best possible data in the shortest period of time that we can use to make a major difference in systems biology and biomedical research."

The QTRAP 5500 System is a mass spectrometry system that integrates triple quadrupole and linear accelerator trap technologies onto a single platform for faster and more accurate analysis of complex samples, making the system ideal for metabolomics, in addition to other areas of systems biology including proteomics and lipidomics.

AB SCIEX, CDC partnership seeks to improve steroid hormone testing

FOSTER CITY, Calif.—AB SCIEX also announced in late July that it will collaborate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation to facilitate the use of mass spectrometry technologies in clinical laboratories for hormone testing. The collaboration aims to support the CDC's Hormone Standardization Project for improving the reliability of laboratory results used to help assess disease risk and monitor treatment.

The Hormone Standardization Project seeks to address current challenges in clinical research, including lack of comparability of data across studies and measurement systems, as well as lack of appropriate performance of assays, especially at low concentrations, such as testosterone levels observed in women and children. To advance this project, the CDC is working to develop a reference method using mass spectrometry to improve comparability, specificity and reliability of results and help facilitate more accurate testing practices.

AB SCIEX provided the CDC with the use of an AB SCIEX QTRAP 5500 System through a contribution to the CDC Foundation. The QTRAP system is a mass spectrometer that is part of an integrated solution, which also features Cliquid Software for Clinical Research, an automated software application designed to simplify the use of mass spectrometry for clinical researchers.

Lloyd Dunlap

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