Big society for small molecules

Last week I was invited to attend Waters’ Metabolomics user meeting of 2015, held at their UK headquarters in Wilmslow, Cheshire. There was a great turnout, with a good variation in applications, from institutes all over the world.

Waters UK headquarters

The meeting kicked off after lunch with an introductory talk from Ian Edwards (Waters UK), who gave an overview of the latest solutions offered by Waters for metabolomics. This included a mention of Progenesis QI which was a cue for me and my colleague, development manager Ian Morns, to introduce ourselves. It’s been a while since I was last in a lab, so it was nice to see the latest advancements, particularly with regards to UPLC and the advantages it offers over HPLC.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with talks from metabolomics researchers from across the globe. Dr Panagiotis Vorkas, Imperial College London, UK, presented “Untargeted UPLC-MS profiling pipeline to expand tissue metabolome coverage” with particular focus on the applications to cardiovascular disease. Panagiotis highlighted that there are particular challenges for clinical metabolomics due to the vast physiochemical diversity of the human metabolome, and how discovery metabolomic profiling is now possible thanks to advancements in instrument technology.

This was aptly followed by a talk from Dr Alexander Fauland, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden on “Overcoming challenges and developing methods for targeted metabolomics of lipid mediators” with particular reference to the application to better diagnostics and treatments to prevent death by anaphylaxis.

Sharing is caring

The rest of the talks were equally engaging, with a few making references to their use of Progenesis QI and the extended statistics module, EZinfo. The main message of the day was definitely centred around the need for more sharing within the community, particularly for libraries, since this is a main limitation for the field currently.

At Nonlinear, we’ve been providing tools to help researchers curate their own neutral mass databases by combining MOL files in Progenesis SDF Studio, and also to create their own fragment databases within Progenesis QI. Whilst it was great to see so many references to people using these tools, it’s still got us thinking more about the need for a community driven project for curating libraries. With that in mind, I have a few questions for you:

In fact, Waters are already working on a community CCS library which they intend to distribute to users of their latest instrument, Vion. CCS is more consistent and reproducible than other measurements such as retention time and fragments, which makes it an ideal community library subject, but there’s still a need to collect libraries for anyone who isn’t fortunate enough to have access to a Waters ion mobility system. A community project needs to be driven by the whole community, so please do get involved by voting on the above poll.

Missed us?

If you weren’t able to attend this meeting, we’ll be at RAFA, Prague, Czech Republic on November 3rd – 6th. We’d love to talk to you, particularly about your thoughts on community libraries. Hopefully we’ll see you soon. Smile

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