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University Buys ‘Mass Fingerprinting’ Technology

21 May 2004

Waikato University Buys ‘Mass Fingerprinting’ Technology

Hamilton, New Zealand and Billerica, MA, USA – 21 May, 2004.

Fresh from being named the top New Zealand university for chemistry and molecular biology research in the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) round, Waikato University has announced the purchase of leading edge research technology that can assist in the development of a wide range of products and biological processes.

“This technology, which quickly and clearly identifies molecules, is being obtained for our researchers in chemistry and molecular biology, both areas which the PBRF ranked us top in New Zealand,” says Professor Richard Price, Dean of Waikato University’s School of Science and Technology.

The MALDI-TOF/TOF instrument and sample handling robot, with a value of more than $NZ800,000, are being purchased from international company Bruker Daltonics Inc, one of the world’s leading suppliers of mass spectrometry solutions. It will enable the university to rapidly and accurately analyse and determine “mass fingerprints” for a wide range of molecules. MALDI-TOF mass spectrometers measure the “time of flight” of ions, produced by bombardment of a molecule by a laser, as they travel to a detector. A sample preparation robot will allow the process of preparing large numbers of samples to be highly automated.

“Our new instrument means New Zealand businesses, particularly in the Waikato region, have an important new test facility,” says Professor Price. “Anyone researching and developing biological or chemical-based products will be able to gain access to a world-class facility, including automation to handle large numbers of samples faster.

“Coupled with the equipment we already have at Waikato University, the addition of the MALDI-TOF/TOF will create a real centre of excellence for mass spectrometry research and development. Together with other instrumentation in the School, we can offer a fully integrated facility for chemical and biological analysis, particularly in the specialist areas of genomics and proteomics. “We will be happy to carry out work for others on a commercial basis or on a joint research basis. From the university’s in-house research perspective, the MALDI-TOF/TOF will allow us to do more detailed research in a wide range of areas.”

For example, the equipment can: Help ensure that therapeutic proteins are working as expected, thereby allowing companies to produce more effective drugs; Study DNA and protein modifications so that the developmental process of organisms is better understood; Monitor the purity of a product at the molecular level; Identify sequences of amino acids in protein and mutations in DNA; Carry out specialized research on chemicals. Identify the molecular size of natural and synthetic polymers. Permit novel research in the areas of mass spectrometry of inorganic chemicals, for which the chemistry department already has an international reputation.

The purchase of the Maldi-TOF/TOF system has involved a collaboration between Waikato University’s departments of biological sciences, chemistry, and material and process engineering, within the School of Science and Technology, and the Vice-Chancellor’s office. Key staff involved in the project were materials and process engineering associate professor Conan Fee, chemistry senior lecturer Merilyn Manley-Harris and biological sciences senior lecturer Dave Musgrave.

The equipment will be installed in a specialist mass spectrometry suite administered by a full-time mass spectrometry specialist.

Bruker Daltonics Inc is represented in New Zealand by Bio-Strategy Distribution Limited. It is a leading supplier of mass spectrometry equipment.

Bruker Daltonics Inc said it was very pleased that the agreement to purchase was also linked to a close future collaboration with Waikato University. Clive Seymour, the company’s Vice President for Asia Pacific says: “This is an important installation of our highly developed MALDI-TOF/TOF system in New Zealand. To combine this with an agreement to create a centre of excellence in this field for Australasia with a top rating university for chemical and molecular biology research is of great significance.

“Potential users of the technology from throughout Australasia will be able to use Waikato University’s equipment for evaluation purposes. Under our collaboration, Waikato University will also be able to access other specialized mass spectrometry systems at facilities in Germany, US and Japan. We are committed to providing excellence in service and support and together with Waikato University, we are more than happy to discuss the application possibilities of this technology with potential users of the systems,” says Mr Seymour. Bruker Daltonics is a leading developer and provider of innovative life science tools based on mass spectrometry.


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