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SIMS21, Poland 2017 - Ron Heeren abstract

Ron Heeren oral presentation (PLEN-Wed)

SIMS, biology and more: New tools to resolve molecular heterogeneity at surfaces

Ron Heeren

M4I, Maastricht University, Universieitssingel 50, 6229ER Maastricht, Netherlands


Imaging mass spectrometry has matured into a technology that is applied to unravel the complexity of a variety of surfaces. Imaging MS research has focused on improving fundamental insight, instrumentation capabilities and applications in many different disciplines. Applied in material sciences, semi-conductor technology, geochemistry and life sciences MSI provides insight in molecular processes that drive local chemistry. A key strength of imaging MS is its ability to operate at the interface of disciplines. Different imaging modalities bring together discrete pieces of information at different spatial, spectral and structural levels. In particular in biology when moving down to cellular scales this is required to understand the heterogeneity of life.

New instrumentation developments have rapidly enhanced the mass spectrometry imaging capabilities. The combination of high resolution technologies (FTICR-MS and Orbitrap MS) with smart ion chemistry, stable isotope labeling approaches, ambient ionization, new data acquisition approaches and funnel based ion sources allows us to address some of the open challenges that still exist in the field of imaging MS. In all of these challenges one element is crucial: an appropriate and exact molecular identification. Identification in any form of mass spectrometry is predominantly performed using a tandem mass spectrometry approach. Higher resolution techniques such as secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) are often limited in the number of ions generated per surface area. We developed a novel tandem MS approach to overcome this problem employing and orthogonal ion selection and high energy collision induced dissociation. This method allows the parallel acquisition of SIMS images and an selected tandem MS image. In other words: it does not discard any precious ions while conducting a tandem MS image experiment and enables molecular identification.

This and other structural identification methods have been employed to tackle a variety of scientific problems covering lengths scales from single cells to entire organs. A full insight of surface chemistry can only be provided if various levels of information are disclosed. This requires a true multimodal approach that implies a combination of different desorption and ionization techniques with different mass spectrometry approaches. The breadth of information revealed by this discovery based multimodal approach is a segway into translational biological research. Discoveries at the proteome and metabolome level directly from biological surfaces enables personalized diagnostics. Multimodal Imaging MS, like no other technology, can provide this information rapidly and accurately. Individual elements, such as our tandem SIMS approach, already provide unique insights. In concert, these technologies go beyond discovery and lead to clear new insights into a variety of biomedical problems.