Mass Spectrometry Imaging

Label-free molecular imaging for a detailed understanding of therapeutic distribution and endogenous biomarker response.

Mass Spectrometry Imaging

Mass Spectrometry Imaging (MSI) enables the analysis of molecular species directly from a tissue sample or any other biological surface.

The spatial distribution of unlabelled molecules adds valuable insight, particularly for Pharmacokinetic studies, where other quantitative methods may not elucidate more discreet regional changes in distribution of a given molecule or compound. MSI is a powerful technique capable of detecting molecules such as proteins, lipids, metabolites, glycans, and drugs, among others. Due to its versatile nature, the potential for the application of MSI in drug discovery and the identification of biomarkers to diagnose diseases has been widely explored and reported in scientific peer-reviewed articles.

At MDC, we aim to provide SME, academic and industrial access to both the technology and expertise required for the implementation of MSI.

What is Mass Spectrometry Imaging?

  • MSI collects molecular information directly from a tissue section or sample surface
  • Allows label-free spatial localisation & distribution of molecules. Target labelling is also possible for specific applications

Through leveraging Mass Spectrometry Imaging analysis of ex vivo tissues or surface deposited samples, we can perform label-free surface analysis for:

  • Small molecules
  • Metabolites
  • Lipids
  • Peptides/proteins

It is possible to analyse different molecular classes from a single sample or section simultaneously. Levels of detection can be portrayed against endogenous analytes or an internal standard, allowing for a semi, or relative quantitative approach.

Mass Spectrometry images can be co-registered with microscopy images or other static images from the same sample or a consecutive section. It is also possible to carry out histological staining after MSI analysis and to obtain microscopy images from the same tissue section.

Mass spectrometry is an immensely powerful tool in bioanalysis and medicines discovery. It allows for the label-free investigation of drug distribution in biological tissues, simultaneously to the profiling of biomarkers of disease and therapeutic response.

At MDC, we have built a multimodal MS research laboratory aimed at providing high-end, liquid and spatial analysis for our customers and collaborators. We are an experienced team of MS experts working alongside a broader team of talented imaging, biomarker, and drug discovery scientists, to name a few.

We are here to help you. Come and speak to us.

Dr Philippa Hart
Lead Scientist, Mass Spectrometry

Reshaping Medicines Discovery...

It's ambitious, it's achievable

We have established a well-equipped and bespoke Mass Spectrometry laboratory, a large part of which has been designed around the application of Mass Spectrometry Imaging.

We have dedicated and automated sample preparation devices for the application of chemical matrices, enzymes and derivatisation agents. This allows for increased versatility in the molecular species that can be analysed and in the level of spatial resolution that may be achieved. In addition to the MS laboratory, the tissue processing and other imaging facilities that run alongside our MSI capability allow for expert handling and analysis of our customer’s and collaborators’ valuable samples.

Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionisation (MALDI)

Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI) provides label-free molecular information from biological and clinical samples with high sensitivity and selectivity. MALDI-MSI is available for analysis of a range of molecules, from drugs to digested proteins. We have both a Bruker RapifleX MALDI tissue imager capable of imaging to a resolution of down to 10 um and at high speed and an Atmospheric Pressure (AP) MALDI source coupled to a Thermo Exploris 240, capable of acquiring both high spatial and mass resolved MSI.

Desorption Electrospray Ionisation (DESI)

Desorption Electrospray Ionisation Mass Spectrometry Imaging (DESI-MSI) provides surface analysis of a range of biological samples for the visualisation of molecular information. DESI-MSI is a label-free, matrix-free technique carried out under atmospheric pressure conditions. This soft ionisation technique provides chemical spatial information with a routine pixel size of down to 20 um. The DESI source is attached to a Synapt G2-Si system, also allowing for the implementation of ion mobility separation. Since MSI is a form of direct analysis with no upfront separation, ion mobility can provide this separation by shape/conformation online, allowing for the distinction between different ions of different molecular classes and charge states.

Our Experts

Dr Philippa Hart

Dr Philippa Hart

Lead Scientist

Dr Irma Berrueta Razo

Dr Irma Berrueta Razo

Senior Scientist


Speak to Us

If you are involved with medicines discovery in the UK in any way, we can almost certainly assist you.