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Analyzing Samples Faster Than Ever Before
SCIEX has developed a strong reputation as a pioneer of novel technologies over the years, pushing the boundaries of mass spectrometry in terms of fundamentals like speed, sensitivity and specificity. These advances have been crucial to expanding the use of MS across various markets but, in today’s fast-paced environment, simply doing the same things better isn’t always enough. To use a cliché, we need to think outside the box. In this case, the ‘box’ is the MS system, and we need to look more closely at how people want to use our instruments, and develop solutions to better serve their needs. This is the driving force behind our research and development efforts, and is directly responsible for our latest innovations like the recently announced the technology announcement of Acoustic Ejection Mass spectrometry at ASMS 2019 – to be Known as the Echo® MS System which includes the SCIEX Triple Quad™ 6500+ LC/MS-MS System upon commercialization.
The main driver of the innovation has been driven at addressing bottlenecks in drug discovery. A typical drug compound library can easily be comprised of millions of compounds – managing, processing and analyzing these libraries takes both time and effort, as well as being costly.
But what if it was possible to screen vast libraries in days, rather than weeks, or even months?
Gavin Fischer, Senior. Director, LC & Integrated Solutions here at SCIEX Answers some questions about Acoustic Ejection Mass Spectrometry (AEMS) system, which has the potential to screen a staggering one million compounds in four days. Gavin discusses the key features of the AEMS system and the impact this technology could have on the drug discovery field.
What is acoustic ejection mass spectrometry?
The Acoustic Ejection Mass Spectrometry (AEMS) technology, to be known as the ECHO® MS System upon commercialization. Echo® MS combines two pioneering innovations of the Open Port Interface (OPI) and Acoustic Droplet Ejection (ADE) to form an AEMS system.
ADE technology has been pioneered by Labcyte (now part of Beckman Coulter) which is under the Danaher umbrella, who are market leaders in the world of liquid handling by dispensing of liquids via ADE. ADE uses a sonic transducer to focus a pulse of ultrasound on moving low volumes of fluids (typically nanoliters) without any physical contact. This technology focuses acoustic energy into a fluid sample to eject droplets from microtitre plates wells (96, 384 or 1536). In the instance with AEMS the droplets are dispensed into the OPI where the droplets are transferred to a SCIEX mass spectrometer ion source for detection using mass analysis.
Could you highlight some of the key features of the AEMS technology?
If there is one takeaway about AEMS is that it has that has groundbreaking speed. It can sample one sample per second into the mass spectrometer when analyzing a single analyte or 3 samples per second when multiplexing analytes between wells. This means fundamentally 60 samples per minute or 180 samples per minute multiplexed. When you think about that and put it into context it is staggering in terms of the sheer volume of samples that could potentially be analyzed in one day.
The benefit of speed is the headline, but, there are additional benefits to the technology. There is no HPLC separation, no extensive sample preparation (eliminating the potential errors associated) and there are running cost benefits as well – these are being demonstrated with the R&D systems that we have placed in our customer collaboration sites (Pfizer, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Boehringer-Ingelheim) where they are demonstrating the following:
Click here to learn more about the 4 defining benefits of the Echo® MS System
What impact could this technology have on the drug discovery field?
The impact could be huge if we think about typical compound libraries, which are comprised of anywhere from one to six million compounds. Currently, available approaches for high-throughput screening with mass spectrometry require 5–10 seconds per sample. There is huge appeal to using mass spectrometry -based approaches due to the richness of data as previously stated, to make better-informed decisions. The application of mass spectrometry is currently limited to small subsets given the time it takes to perform those assays vs other techniques. To put into context with the current state of LC-MS screening platforms, to screen one million compounds against one drug target it would take approximately 115 days of 24/7 operation. This is where the bottleneck of time arises.
AEMS has the potential to analyze that same sample volume in only just four4 days. From 115 days down to just 4 days. With this type of capacity, the technology can help overcome bottlenecks, and deliver the speed and rich data that the drug discovery field requires.
When do you envisage this technology becoming commercially available?
The Echo® MS module will become commercially available in 2020. Since announcing the AEMS technology, the commercialization process is now in full swing and there is excitement and buzz throughout the industry.
Echo and Echo MS are trademarks or registered trademarks of Labcyte, Inc. in the United States and other countries, and are being used under license.
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