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Innovations In

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This month, we highlight some of the most exciting products and technologies related to analytical chemistry that have been released recently.
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Innovations in Analytical Chemistry Technology

Recent product and technology launches aim to solve critical challenges in the biopharma space

Last issue, we looked at some of the innovators in analytical chemistry who were celebrated at the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon 2022) and touched on the advancements their teams are making in the field. This month, we highlight some of the most exciting products and technologies related to analytical chemistry that have been released recently, the majority of which target the biopharmaceutical market.

Key launches from recent conferences

Announced prior to the 2021 annual meeting of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS), which ran Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, MOBILion Systems Inc. officially launched its high-resolution ion mobility (HRIM) product, MOBIE, at the fall event. According to a press release, MOBIE aims to solve characterization challenges that scientists face during quality monitoring and biopharmaceutical drug development through the combination of structures for lossless ion manipulation (SLIM) technology developed by Richard Smith, PhD, from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and high resolution ion mobility mass spectrometry. This tool will enable researchers to delve deeper into the proteins, lipids, and metabolites that may be indicative of disease. 

Featuring analysis times five to 60 times faster than conventional separation methods, the company says MOBIE will help simplify and speed up workflows of difficult analyte classes, such as glycans, lipids, proteins, and peptides.

"MOBIE can not only separate and identify molecules other instruments fail to detect, but it achieves superior performance with rapid analysis times, more efficient analyte-agnostic workflows, and more reproducible results, making it ideal for routine analysis," says Melissa Sherman, PhD, CEO of MOBILion Systems Inc., in the press release. "We are excited to be bringing this best-in-class product to biopharma and biomarker researchers."

Thermo Fisher Scientific also launched several mass spectrometry and chromatography products at ASMS 2021, which present important advances in biopharma as well. The new Proteome Discoverer 3.0 software with CHIMERYS and MSAID capability is a comprehensive set of tools for proteomic studies that will increase the speed of decision making and confidence in results across peptide identification, protein coverage, and quantitation studies.

Another key release, the new Orbitrap Exploris MX high resolution mass spectrometer, in conjunction with Thermo’s new multi-attribute method (MAM) workflow, will increase the speed and reliability of mass spectrometry data for late-stage development, commercialization, manufacturing, and quality control. The MAM 2.0 workflow helps to create a fully connected, knowledge-sharing system to provide consistent and reproducible results. Rounding out Thermo’s notable releases from ASMS 2021, the Exploris MX provides simple-to-operate and compliance-ready MS for a wide range of applications without the requirements of high-end MS expertise. 

During the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO) ReCONNECT event, held Nov. 15-19, Thermo also showcased a new instrument targeting the proteomics field—the Thermo Scientific Vanquish Neo Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography (UHPLC) System. The all-in-one nano-, capillary-, and micro-flow LC system minimizes sample loss and maximizes the production of high-quality data.

Boosting biotherapeutics

In another launch that should benefit those in protein biotherapeutics, Agilent announced its new 6560C Ion Mobility LC/Q-TOF, the latest instrument to couple ion mobility and high-resolution mass spectrometry. The improved sensitivity allows more accurate collision cross sections, which will allow “for more precise measurements of large protein complexes such as biotherapeutic antibodies and large protein assemblies,” according to a press release.

The combined performance of UPLC, ion mobility, and Q-TOF high-resolution mass spectrometry results in significant gains in separations power as well. Resolving isobaric species of glycans, lipids, and protein charge variants are within the reach of the 6560C instrument. The system also integrates the new collision induced unfolding (CIU) capability for protein folding and structural analysis. 

"We are excited to be bringing this best-in-class product to biopharma and biomarker researchers."

“As the market for protein biotherapeutics expands, pressure increases to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the development process,” states Agilent. “By expanding our instrument portfolio, software solutions, and sample preparation capabilities, Agilent delivers significant value for the development of biotherapeutics in this fast-growing market, allowing for deeper characterization of proteins,” adds Sudharshana Seshadri, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Mass Spectrometry Division, in the press release.

For those requiring accurate and speedy identification and quantification of oligonucleotides, 908 Devices launched a new Oligos kit for their ZipChip device for mass spectrometers. The ZipChip device uses microfluidic-based capillary electrophoresis and electrospray ionization technology to simplify sample preparation, allowing scientists to introduce samples directly into the mass spec to perform high-resolution separations.

Traditional methods for oligonucleotide purification typically require conditions of extreme pH and the use of harsh ion-pairing reagents. Methods can be slow and tedious, and conditions can be problematic to mass spectrometers, sometimes resulting in instrument maintenance and downtime. The use of ZipChip microfluidic separations eliminates the excess reagents and steps involved in LC-based separations. The built-in electrospray ionization source is readily compatible with multiple mass spectrometer interfaces, further reducing sample prep burden. The fast and simple solution for oligo purification means focus can be placed on high-resolution, accurate mass identification and quantification of target molecules.

“Oligonucleotides is an exciting and rapidly growing therapeutic area for targeting genetic diseases,” says Maura Fitzpatrick, vice president of product management and marketing, 908 Devices, in a press release. “We continue to enhance the capabilities of our ZipChip device and assay kits to enable our users to accelerate their workflows in critical-to-life applications.”

908 Devices presented results of the new Oligos kit interfaced with ZipChip technology at the 2021 ASMS conference. Several presentations explored the topics of decreasing analysis time and sample requirements, while avoiding MS incompatible solvents. 908 Devices also expanded upon the use of ZipChip technology with presentations in areas including resolution of charge variants in intact monoclonal antibody analysis, and the utility of functionalizing the ZipChip device with integrated solid phase extraction capabilities.

A new kind of analytical instrument 

Meanwhile, SCIEX showcased a whole new category of analytical instrument, which it says is aimed at helping “scientists close the developability gap” and is based on the company’s icIEF-MS (imaged capillary isoelectric focusing mass spectrometry) platform. That platform separates charge variants prior to high-resolution MS characterization using novel microfluidics to retain sensitivity and generate greater analysis speed.

The majority of new product releases in the analytical chemistry space target the biopharmaceutical market.
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“Customers tell us that they are looking for orthogonal and higher throughput technologies to address analytical challenges,” said Mani Krishnan, vice president and general manager, CE & Biopharma, at SCIEX, in a press release. “As we continue to develop icIEF-MS, the feedback is that it provides a unique and powerful analysis method that is simply not available today. In fact, the ability to monitor multiple product quality attributes in a single integrated assay can streamline and accelerate the biotherapeutic development process, allowing for meaningful decisions earlier and reduced risk of costly downstream failures.” The new technology can be applied to all stages of the drug discovery process.

Another notable release focused on proteomics comes from SEER Technology, which launched its Proteograph Product Suite at ASMS 2021 as well. This new technology uses specifically engineered nanoparticles to selectively bind proteins without prior knowledge of what is present in the sample, allowing deeper and more sensitive investigation of the proteome. The approach enables the exploration of low abundant proteins in samples and the technology couples to a number of different MS detectors. This innovation will accelerate unbiased coverage and deep access of proteins in complex samples to explore new aspects of biology.

Other new releases

Another recent launch that deserves mention includes Shimadzu’s LabSolutions MD software, an automated method development application making use of an analytical-by-design approach. The software will explore the parameter space of methods being developed based on science and risk to evaluate the effectiveness and robustness of LC methods. The full system saves labor by switching mobile phases, columns, and other LC parameters automatically, which will greatly speed up method development activities in the lab.

Rounding out the recent launches from major instrument manufacturers, back in September, Waters launched its BioAccord System with ACQUITY Premier, which contains innovative wetted surface technology to reduce non-specific adsorption losses from metal surfaces. The result is faster analyses, improved data quality, and better quantitation, especially for traditionally sticky analytes. This new tool will contribute to solving key challenges in the biopharma industry. 

A look at Pittcon 2022

While information on new product releases from Pittcon 2022 was unavailable at press time, several key manufacturers including Anton Paar, Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, Bruker Optics, and CEM had press conferences scheduled. However, with Pittcon recently cancelled due to safety concerns related to the current pandemic, it’s uncertain whether these events will be moved to a virtual format or postponed. Be sure to check back for a roundup of any key product launches from the show, if they proceed.