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HR-TOFMS for the metabolome
November 2012
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author


ST. JOSEPH, Mich.—LECO Corp. has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the development of metabolomic applications and tools. Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences division in late October took delivery of the LECO Citius LC-HRT to use for applied research in metabolomics.

Unlike its competitors, which hail from Europe as well as traditional high-tech corridors on the U.S. coasts, LECO's "coast" is Lakeview Avenue on Lake Michigan, where it has produced technologically advanced products and solutions for more than 75 years. Its current lineup includes high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HR-TOFMS) for liquid and gas chromatography, as well as comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography, all of which use the company's ChromaTOF operating software. Product lines also include high-quality analytical instrumentation, metallography and optical equipment and consumables. LECO has more than 30 subsidiaries worldwide, with additional distributors authorized to sell or service LECO products to the rest of the world.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses some of the world 's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health and creating new materials. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages the lab for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

"Berkeley Lab was interested in our technology, and we at LECO wanted to work with high-impact metabolomics," says Dr. Jeff Patrick, director of marketed technology at LECO Separation Science.

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

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

The metabolome represents the collection of all metabolites in a biological cell, tissue, organ or organism, which are the end products of cellular processes, giving an instantaneous snapshot of the physiology of that cell or system. One of the challenges of systems biology and functional genomics is to integrate proteomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic information to give a more complete picture of living organisms, which is a goal of the LECO-Berkeley partnership.
Dr. Trent Northen, a staff scientist with Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division and with the Joint BioEnergy Institute, will lead the research. Northen's research aims to construct detailed models of cellular communities' metabolism and energy through an integrated program of metabolite imaging and metabolomic analysis. This approach is being applied to understand the dynamics of microbial communities, as well as the metabolic drivers of breast cancer.

"The dynamics of microbial communities involve changes in biochemistry and metabolites for microbes, particularly where they are interspersed," Patrick says. "It gives a picture of the interaction between the microbe and its environment, other microbes and other tissue. With breast cancer, Berkeley will be looking at changes in metabolism in both the whole system and the local tissue that is affected. For LECO, this collaboration is a wonderful opportunity to support the work of a leader in metabolomics, and to be part of the tradition of scientific excellence at Berkeley Lab. We believe this partnership will accelerate and facilitate the addressing of both biological and medical questions."

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

Code: E111220



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