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Latest News

Instant Micro Confirmations Introduced at our Wakefield Laboratory

May 21, 2019

ALS Environmental is now offering instant confirmations using MALDI-ToF (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation - Time of Flight) analysis at our Wakefield laboratory, cutting wait times dramatically. MALDI-ToF technology has been in use at our Coventry site for some time now and both sites are fully ISO 17025:2005 accredited. Until recently, MALDI-ToF was primarily used in healthcare but ALS has spearheaded its use in the environmental sector, being one of the first to gain accreditation for its use in this capacity.

Wakefield Microbiology, Cryptosporidium & Logistics Manager, Christopher Ulph, comments:

            “The introduction of MALDI-ToF at Wakefield has significantly reduced confirmation                                wait times while maintaining scientific rigour and the integrity of our results”

Take a look here to see just how much time is saved using this advanced technology.

So what is it exactly?

MALDI-ToF works by vaporising a sample, in this case biological samples, while reducing the fragmentation that often occurs when ablating large molecules. This means that largely intact biomolecules, like proteins for example, can be accelerated into a mass spectrometer for analysis and their composition quickly determined. Most commonly a time-of-flight mass spectrometer is used as it can detect a wide range of masses, making it perfect for detecting the huge variety of masses found across biological samples. In simple terms, the instrument measures how long it takes for the sample to traverse it - the longer it takes the bigger the molecule.

Identification of the sample is achieved by comparing the results of the analysis with a database of known examples, in other words we look for a protein ‘fingerprint’ that is unique to a particular species. If the results match, we can confirm that a particular organism is present in the vaporised sample.

Currently, we’re able to confirm the presence of the following organisms using this technique:

  • Enterococci
  • Coliforms e.g. E. coli
  • Pseudomonas
  • Salmonella
  • Clostridium

If you’d like to know more about MALDI-ToF, and specifically our implementation, please contact us or request a quote.