HR-TOFMS for the metabolome

LECO and Berkeley Lab partner on metabolomics research

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich.—LECO Corp. hasentered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy'sLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the development ofmetabolomic applications and tools. Berkeley Lab's Life Sciencesdivision in late October took delivery of the LECO Citius LC-HRT touse for applied research in metabolomics.

Unlike its competitors, which hail fromEurope as well as traditional high-tech corridors on the U.S. coasts,LECO's "coast" is Lakeview Avenue on Lake Michigan, where ithas produced technologically advanced products and solutions for morethan 75 years. Its current lineup includes high-resolutiontime-of-flight mass spectrometry (HR-TOFMS) for liquid and gaschromatography, as well as comprehensive two-dimensional gaschromatography, all of which use the company's ChromaTOF operatingsoftware. Product lines also include high-quality analyticalinstrumentation, metallography and optical equipment and consumables.LECO has more than 30 subsidiaries worldwide, with additionaldistributors authorized to sell or service LECO products to the restof the world.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratoryaddresses some of the world's most urgent scientific challenges byadvancing sustainable energy, protecting human health and creatingnew materials. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertisehas been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University ofCalifornia manages the lab for the Department of Energy's Office ofScience.

"Berkeley Lab was interested in ourtechnology, and we at LECO wanted to work with high-impactmetabolomics," says Dr. Jeff Patrick, director of marketedtechnology at LECO Separation Science.

Patrick will act as liaison to ensureBerkeley's ongoing access to LECO's R&D and analyticaltechnology. Designed for complex sample analysis, LECO's HRTinstrumentation provides acquisition speeds of up to 200spectra/second, mass resolution up to 100,000 FWHM and mass accuracyless than 1 ppm—all specifications that are industry-leading,Patrick states.

"We introduced our high-resolutionsystem last year at Pittcon, and it received the Pittcon editors'award for technology," he notes.

The metabolome represents thecollection of all metabolites in a biological cell, tissue, organ ororganism, which are the end products of cellular processes, giving aninstantaneous snapshot of the physiology of that cell or system. Oneof the challenges of systems biology and functional genomics is tointegrate proteomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic information togive a more complete picture of living organisms, which is a goal ofthe LECO-Berkeley partnership.
Dr. Trent Northen, a staff scientistwith Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division and with the JointBioEnergy Institute, will lead the research. Northen's researchaims to construct detailed models of cellular communities'metabolism and energy through an integrated program of metaboliteimaging and metabolomic analysis. This approach is being applied tounderstand the dynamics of microbial communities, as well as themetabolic drivers of breast cancer.

"The dynamics of microbialcommunities involve changes in biochemistry and metabolites formicrobes, particularly where they are interspersed," Patrick says."It gives a picture of the interaction between the microbe and itsenvironment, other microbes and other tissue. With breast cancer,Berkeley will be looking at changes in metabolism in both the wholesystem and the local tissue that is affected. For LECO, thiscollaboration is a wonderful opportunity to support the work of aleader in metabolomics, and to be part of the tradition of scientificexcellence at Berkeley Lab. We believe this partnership willaccelerate and facilitate the addressing of both biological andmedical questions."

Patrick notes that the metabolicproducts of food, botanicals and herbal remedies are other areas ofcurrent research. All he could add as results await publication isthat the work has "generated some interesting metabolic shifts."

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