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NPL launches innovative molecular imaging instrument
©NPL N1950 016

NPL launches innovative molecular imaging instrument

14/11/17Science & Technology

The New 3D OrbiSIMS is to provide new insights into drug discovery and cell biology.

The 3D OrbiSIMS provides label-free 3D images of drugs and metabolites with sub-cellular resolution unique to NPL, and developed with GSK, ION-TOF, Thermo Fisher Scientific and the University of Nottingham, 3D OrbiSIMS will provide new insights into drug discovery.

The UK’s National Measurement Institute, has today launched the 3D OrbiSIMS – a new technology with the highest reported simultaneous spatial and mass resolutions. Such high performance is essential to reveal the biomolecular complexity in a single cell.

The concept was created by Professor Ian Gilmore, at the National Physical Laboratory, who led the multi-disciplinary team with experts in drug discovery at GSK and pharmaceutical science at the University of Nottingham.

The 3D OrbiSIMS could help identify where drugs go at the cellular level to help answer longstanding questions about whether drug concentrations are sufficiently high in the right places to have a therapeutic effect, or if the medicine is lodging within cellular components and causing toxicity.

Breakthroughs in genomics are beginning to reveal this single-cell heterogeneity. Super-resolution optical microscopy (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014) with the use of fluorescent labels has shone a new light on proteins, the machinery of life, with exquisite sub-cellular resolution.

However, the fluorescent labelling strategy is not appropriate for drug molecules and metabolites that are dynamically created and consumed. The world of these metabolites at the single-cell scale remains mysterious and elusive.

Professor Ian Gilmore, Senior NPL Fellow and founder of the National Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry Imaging (NiCE-MSI) at NPL, says: “The 3D OrbiSIMS is an exciting new advance as it pushes the boundaries for label-free molecular imaging to the single-cell scale. This is beginning to reveal a surprisingly large heterogeneity of single-cell drug uptake and the effects of the drug on metabolites.”

The 3D OrbiSIMS is already having impact on UK industry by providing new insight into technological problems where having the right molecules in the right place matters.

Pan European Networks Ltd