A Purdue research team recently teamed up with a biomedical group at Vanderbilt to use their streamlining of the mass spectrometry technique to identify cancerous liver cells. According to Purdue’s press release:
The team’s paper appears on the cover of the current issue of Angewandte Chemie, a leading European scientific journal. Members of the team include Purdue’s Justin M. Wiseman and Zoltan Takats, as well as Vanderbilt University’s Satu M. Puolitaival and Richard M. Caprioli.
The wand-like probes are one of the improvements the team has made to the mass spectrometer, an analytical device that in its conventional form has been long established in modern laboratories. But while ordinary mass spectrometry is both time- and labor-intensive, the Cooks team has modified the devices so that not only are they portable enough to be carried in backpacks, but they can also determine the chemical composition of an unprepared sample within five seconds.
Their modified spectrometric technique, which the team has dubbed desorption electrospray ionization (DESI, pronounced “daisy”), involves aiming a fine water mist at a surface with a pencil-sized tube that also sucks up the fluid after the droplets have mixed with the material in the sample.
“This paper shows specifically that DESI can detect cancer in liver tissue, but its medical applications can go beyond that,” said Takats, who is a postdoctoral assistant in Cooks’ lab. “We see DESI as a microscope that can ‘see’ chemicals instead of light. As we move the ‘wand’ across tissue, it can reveal what chemicals are where, and these chemical signatures are clues to what’s happening in the body.”
Link to the press release…