Catching up from Pittcon: Waters’ Synapt Wins Editors’ Award for Best New Product - Watch Demo Video and Interview with Jim Wate

Here's a first posting (more to come) on what happened at the show last week. It's contracted a bit over the past few years, but attendance was still strong with (I'm guessing) around 7,000 non-exhibitor attendees. The best part of Pittcon is the fact that some of the entrepreneurs who actually created the first devices that eventually made their companies global analytical instrumentation giants, also walk the show floor.  Jim Waters, founder of the like-named corporation was in attendance (click on the link below to watch a video interview), as was David Schwartz, the chairman of BioRad, who received the Heritage Award at Pittcon this year. He and his wife had established the company back in 1952.  This year, the Editors' Gold award for best new product went to Waters for its Synapt High Definition Mass Spectroscopy (MS) (or HDMS) system, introduced last December, which combines ion mobility spectroscopy and high-performance mass spectroscopy, performing MS functions but also allowing molecules to be distinguished based on mass, size and shape.  The instrument can be used in small molecule research, but can also be used as part of "orthogonal analytics," in protein characterization, to distinguish specific protein folding---an ability that would be important in characterizing tomorrow's biogenerics and comparing them to their name-brand counterparts.  Among those using this technology is a team at Oxford University's chemistry department, which is analyzing three-dimensional data on protein conformation and protein interactions to determine how cells sense oxygen,  in research that could help promote development of therapies that would starve cancer cells of oxygen but keep cardiac tissue oxygenated after a heart attack.  The company's director of marketing for life sciences predicted that "HDMS will be to MS what HPLC was to chromatography." Also using the instrument is the Max Planck institute, whose department of cellular biochemistry is analyzing the role that proteins play in degenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease.Our initial impression of the Synapt HDMS system was of a very powerful two-dimensional separation device. We wanted a system that could measure large intact protein complexes with high accuracy. The ability to additionally separate species by ion mobility greatly enhances the appeal of this system, commented Max Planck Institute Director and Professor Ulrich Hartl, and Dr. Manajit Hayer-Hartl, Principal Investigator, in a company press release. Dr. Hayer-Hartls research focuses on the understanding of the mechanisms by which molecular chaperones mediate protein folding and inhibit misfolding in neurodegenerative diseases. The Synapt System will analyze the large protein complexes, and their subunit composition, that are involved in such diseases. Prof. Hartl and Dr. Hayer-Hartl are looking to the Synapt System to give them greater insight into protein folding, assembly, and aggregation pathways by being able to resolve, identify and characterize intermediates based on differences in conformation, something that is "nearly impossible" to do with current technology. Click here to watch a video demo of Synapt and hear Mr. Waters' perspectives on this year's program and the field in general.  Below, a link to a relevant poster explaining one bioapplication of TOF and ion mobility.