New Method Providing Unique Insights Into The Structure Of Cells

The study developing innovative method providing unique insights; into the structure of cells and tissues. Cells are the basic building blocks of life and; as such, they have been the object of intense study since the invention of the optical microscope. The development of mass spectrometry (MS) methods those which define the chemical composition of cells represent a further milestone for research in the field of cell biology.

But MALDI stands for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation; with ‘t’ standing for transmission mode is the use of two specially adapted lasers; one of them generates a particularly small focus on the material removed, while the other produces the necessary signal enhancement for many biomolecules by up to several magnitudes for example; for fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, cholesterol or administered medication.

Structure of cells

Information on their precise distribution in cells and tissues can, among other things; help to produce a better understanding of disease and inflammation processes and show new strategies for treating them. MALDI MS methods define the nature and the composition of molecules on the basis of their characteristic mass, i.e. of their molecular weight.

This makes it possible to take a sample irradiated by the laser for example, a thin section of tissue obtained from a biopsy and simultaneously define often dozens, even hundreds, of different biomolecules in one single measurement. However, up to now the resolution provided by mass spectrometry imaging was well below that of classic optical microscopy. As a result of the introduction of the new t-MALDI-2 technology; it has been possible to noticeably reduce this gap.

Fluorescence microscopy

The decisive improvement which our method offers; in comparison with established MALDI imaging methods, is based on the combination; and extension of two technical methods previously in use. This enables us to place high-quality microscope lenses very close to the sample, thus reducing the size of the laser dot. This is different from what is possible; for geometrical reasons, in standard methods where the samples are irradiated from the direction of the mass analyzer.

However, the researchers demonstrating the possibilities offering by their technology; taking the fine structures in the cerebellum of a mouse and using kidney cell cultures. Study method could improve the future understanding of many processes in the body at molecular level. Also, established methods from optical microscopy for example, fluorescence microscopy could be merged with mass spectrometry imaging in a ‘multi-modal’ instrument.