Thermo Fisher Scientific has introduced a range of powerful new mass spectroscopy products at the 55th ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry currently being held in Indianapolis, US.
The new products feature two new Thermo Scientific hybrid mass spectrometers (MS), the LTQ Orbitrap Discovery and LTQ Orbitrap XL, a new series of ion trap MS, the Thermo Scientific LCQ Fleet as well as a new triple quadrupole mass spectrometer the Thermo Scientific TSQ Quantum GC.
The company has also released a new line of Turboflow columns under the Thermo Scientific brand name for use with its Transcend LC-MS (liquid chromatography - mass spectrometry) series instruments and a new interface for its FAIMS (high-Field Asymmetric waveform Ion Mobility Spectrometry) device that allows it to be coupled to its ion trap mass spectrometers.
According to Dr Lester Taylor, Thermo Fisher Scientific's director of Product Marketing, Life Sciences, Mass Spectrometry, the two new LTQ Orbitrap instruments are built on the legacy of the LTQ XL linear ion trap instrument. The LTQ XL ETD (electron transfer dissociation) instrument won a silver award at Pittcon earlier this year.
"The high end Thermo Scientific LTQ Orbitrap XL will appeal to those doing advanced proteomics experiments such as studying post-translational modifications, discovering biomarkers and investigating small drug metabolism," said Taylor in an interview.
He continued by saying that the Thermo Scientific LTQ Orbitrap Discovery will be very competitively priced and compete with existing quadrupole time-of-flight (Q-TOF) systems in the general proteomics and drug discovery areas.
"Many pharmaceutical research groups are using this type of system to monitor the up- or down-regulation of proteins as a result of drug exposure - critical for monitoring end-point markers in drug development trials," said Taylor.
"You can perform several different types of experiments using the LTQ Orbitrap instruments., We can detect in the LTQ XL if we wish or select specific ions and funnel them into the Orbitrap device or we can dissociate ions in the linear ion trap and then funnel those into the Orbitrap," said Taylor.
"The LTQ itself works as a very accurate device for gating the number of ions that are transmitted into the Orbitrap and that's critical for controlling the outstanding resolution and mass accuracy performance of the instrument."
The LTQ Orbitrap Discovery is the more basic of the two instruments and has a resolution power of up to 30,000, while Thermo Fisher Scientific believes the XL to be the ultimate protein identification and biomarker discovery platform with a resolution power of up to 100,000. Both systems provide rapid scan rate, high mass accuracy and "unsurpassed" sensitivity in MS and MSn experiments.
The LTQ Orbitrap XL has an additional new higher collision decomposition (HCD) device which is used to provide additional fragmentation modes and structural elucidation capabilities.
"This allows us to transfer ions from the linear ion trap into the HCD device where they can undergo additional collisional activation and fragmentation. Ions can then be transferred from the HCD cell into the Orbitrap," said Taylor.
According to Taylor, Thermo Fisher Scientific is currently "working on implementing ETD on the LTQ Orbitrap XL, which will probably be available next year".
He continued by explaining that while the CID (collisionally induced dissociation) available in the linear ion trap part of the instrument provides a few volts of collisional energy, the HCD cell gives access to up to higher collisional energies if needed.
"Depending on the molecule, this gives a lot of fragmentation at low mass, giving you low mass diagnostic ions, often similar to those observed using triple quadrupole fragmentation," said Taylor.
He went on to say that the addition of the Thermo Scientific Turboflow columns and FAIMS device to these systems added "tremendous potential for enhancing front end selectivity".
This is achieved by cleaning up the sample to avoid signal suppression and is particularly useful when trying to achieve ultimate sensitivity when conducting target assays.
The FAIMS device, launched last year for use with Thermo's triple quadrupole MS systems, sorts molecules by shape as well as size and charge.
The FAIMS ion mobility separation works in a similar manner to the Waters Synapt, but Taylor believes "there are some significant advantages to the way we've implemented this in the front of the instrument in order to provide this extra dimension of separation prior to introducing the ions into the MS".
He continued by saying that the device can be set to transmit selected compounds and not the background material that can get through an LC separation.
"You can also use it to separate different molecular conformations of peptides and proteins that are folded in different ways in the gas phase," he said.
The Turboflow technology, acquired during Thermo Fisher Scientific's purchase of Cohesive Technologies last year, allows the simplification of the sample preparation process which has been traditionally conducted off-line.
The ability to process urine and plasma samples in-line means that laboratories can increase their productivity dramatically, and when combined with the Cohesive multiplexing technology, analyse over 1000 samples a day.
Taylor then highlighted how useful its BRIMS (biomarker research initiative in mass spectrometry) centre had been in testing the instruments.
"Its all very well knowing that we can build instruments and advertise why they are the best tool for the job, but ultimately they need to be tested in environments where they are running samples and trying to solve problems that end users would find meaningful," he said.
He highlighted how useful this approach had been for optimising the front end separation systems as well as for validating the use, statistical sampling and analysis of the MS data.