BERLIN, Germany—Bruker Daltonics will provide Synlab, aprivate association that operates more than 70 diagnostic laboratories inEuropean countries, with Bruker's MALDI-TOF mass spectrometers to conductmolecular microbial identification, the companies announced in December.
Synlab and Bruker have concluded a long-term partnershipagreement in order to equip the laboratories of the Synlab associationexclusively with the MALDI Biotyper system. The MALDI Biotyper is already inroutine use in Synlab's clinical microbiology centers in Trier, Weiden andDachau in Germany. Bruker and Synlab plan to further enlarge and refine theMALDI Biotyper reference library using well-defined clinical isolates from thedaily microbiology work of the Synlab laboratories.
There were three main reasons for Synlab's acquisition ofthe MALDI-TOF Biotyper, notes Dr. Ulrich Knipp, technical head of microbiologyat Synlab (Trier): improvement of quality, reduction of the turnaround time andcosts.
"The MALDI-TOF-technology is a quick method for reliableidentification of microorganisms in a progressive microbiologicalroutine-laboratory," he says. "Even microorganisms which cannot be easilyidentified under conventional routine conditions, can be identified with thismethod, rapidly and without special efforts and costs. Thereby, other expensiveand time-consuming methods such as sequence analysis, can be reduced to aminimum. Last but not least, the MALDI Biotyper is a green method, reducing thewaste produced by biochemical identification kits normally used."
Synlab also regards Bruker as the leader in massspectroscopy and especially in proteomics. And in contrast to the competitorthat was considered, Bruker bundled the mass spectrometer as well as thenecessary controlling and interpretation software in one package.
The MALDI Biotyper is integrated into the Synlablaboratories' microbiology workflow, combining fast molecular identificationwith conventional antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST). The instrumentreports the identification results into the existing laboratory informationsystems (LIS). Integration with LIS MCS (www.mcs-ag.com), Medat (www.medat.de)and Vision4health (www.vision4health.com) has already been established forSynlab, 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 ofmicroorganisms.
"It can be applied to gram-positive and gram-negativebacteria, yeast and multicellular fungi without any presumptions orpre-testing," he says.
Starting from culture plates, identification results can begenerated in a couple of minutes. The instrument is a protein massfingerprinting method that matches spectra from samples to library spectra.High-abundance proteins, such as ribosomal and other housekeeping proteins, areanalyzed and that's the reason why the MALDI Biotyper is very robust providinghighly reproducible molecular results, he states.
Measuring the protein's mass by the MALDI-TOF technology isa very fast process. Initially, the samples are fixed in a crystallized matrixon the so-called MALDI target. In the initial ionization process the crystalswith the sample are removed from the target by a laser. The sample moleculesare vaporized into the vacuum. Afterwards, high voltage is applied toaccelerate the charged particles. In a second step, the accelerated moleculesare 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 detectorallows for a calculation of their respective mass.
Fundamental to the MALDI Biotyper is the well-establishedlibrary, Mix notes, which comprises thousands of individual strains and isgrowing continuously.
"In close cooperation with our partners—for example, theGerman Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures (DSMZ), and more than adozen clinical laboratories—a reference library with reliably characterizedstrains as well as clinical isolates has been built up and is continuouslyenlarged," he says. "Our framework contract with Synlab validates our effortsto provide comprehensive service and applications support to our customers byour microbiologists, fully developed technicians network and IT specialists forintegration into various laboratory information systems (LIS)."