Overcoming bottlenecks in early drug discovery with the power of sound

Electron Microscopy Photography of a group of human Neutrophils

Medicines Discovery Catapult and AstraZeneca collaborate to unlock the potential of Acoustic Mist Ionisation Mass Spectrometry

Medicines Discovery Catapult have today [22nd October] announced a collaboration with AstraZeneca to advance the adoption of Acoustic Mist Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (AMI-MS) within drug discovery.

For the first time UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will have access to this state-of-the-art bioanalytical technology through research partnerships with the Catapult. The collaboration will also enable AstraZeneca to further unlock the potential of AMI-MS by accessing Medicines Discovery Catapult’s technical expertise.

Although a powerful technique used to determine the mass, structure and abundance of molecules, traditional mass spectrometry has limitations in the rate at which samples can be introduced into the mass detector. The industry has therefore relied on other expensive labelled technologies that increase the duration and cost of early stage drug discovery.

AMI-MS delivers a twenty-fold improvement in throughput compared to traditional mass spectrometry. Instead of using a needle to inject a liquid sample into the mass detector, AMI technology uses sound energy. A fine mist of charged droplets is ‘lifted’ from the surface of a sample into the mass spectrometer. Contactless and contamination-free, AMI-MS can analyse up to three samples per second, or more than 100,000 samples per day.

Dr Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer of the Medicines Discovery Catapult, says:

“It is important for us to enable UK SMEs to use hard-to-access sophisticated bioanalytical technologies. For the first time, using the power of sound energy, this state-of-the-art technology gives our partner SMEs the potential to better understand and more rapidly advance their promising drug candidates.”

Dr Jon Wingfield, Principal Scientist, Innovative Medicines and Early Development (IMED) Biotech Unit at AstraZeneca says:

“We are investing in ground-breaking science to help lead the way in mass spectrometry screening. Our collaboration with Medicines Discovery Catapult will not only enable us to engage with the wider scientific community but will also allow us to unlock the potential of Acoustic Mass Spectrometry within drug discovery.”