Most commercial tandem mass spectrometers analyze proteins through collision-induced dissociation (CID) for the fragmentation stage. While practical and robust, CID has low interpretation efficiency. This technology describes a novel way of protein analysis by coupling a thermionic electron source and electron-capture-dissociation (ECD) tandem liquid mass spectrometry. Once fitted in a mass spectra system, it can produce ECD product-ion mass spectra of a variety of syringe-infused peptides and small proteins without the aid of phase-specific electron injection into the cell, ion-trapping, or cooling gas.
Features & Benefits
Background of Invention
The need to identify complex molecules in real-world samples has propelled mass spectrometry into a $3 billion industry growing 8% annually. The fragmentation of molecules within a mass spectrometer is necessary to accurately reveal their identity. The current approach uses a sledgehammer that complicates identification. Our technology use low-energy electrons as a scalpel to cut molecules with precision. We switch between three complementary methods of fragmentation in milliseconds to correctly identify molecules as large as whole proteins. These methods are well established, but are restricted to expensive research instruments because of the difficulty of confining low-energy electrons. We have solved this limitation by sculpting magnetic fields to confine electrons in a hockey puck-sized device that can be retrofitted into current mass spectrometers with minimal re-engineering.
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