The Verdel team has developed a method where the position of the analyte ions are modulated in and out of a ‘fragmentation zone’ created by a laser or electron beam by applying radiofrequency voltages that have the same frequency as the motion of the analyte ions.
The voltages are used to manipulate the positions of the analyte ions with a frequency that is related to their m/z ratio. Because they are modulating in and out of the ‘fragmentation zone’, if the analyte ions are fragmented, all fragment ion peak abundances will be modulated at the frequency of their precursor ion’s m/z.
The two-dimensional Fourier transform can then relate each fragment ion to its respective precursor analyte ion, and users get structural information on all the analytes in the sample, without missing the lower abundant analytes.
A key benefit of 2DMS is that because all the fragmentation in a sample is done simultaneously, 2DMS can be as much as 100x faster than MS/MS. A significant sensitivity improvement should also be seen due to the signal averaging capability of the Fourier transform.
Currently the only instruments capable of this (FTICR MS) are large, expensive instruments that are costly and time-consuming to maintain. The speed of analysis (1 hour) using 2DMS on an FTICR is very slow and so it cannot be coupled directly online to cinematographic techniques, so 2DMS has so far been limited to academia.
Verdel are bringing 2DMS into routine use within research and high throughput laboratories.
The uniqueness of the technology hinges on its ability to enable parallel analysis of different analytes within a sample. This enables the end user to acquire comprehensive data from each sample, at a cost and within a time frame that is typically associated with sequential analysis of single analytes.
The value of the additional data will vary between applications; the product will allow much more detailed profiling of every sample. For example, pharmaceutical companies will be able to analyse a sample and will be able to retrospectively review this data when new biological information becomes available.