Equipment for Faster Mass Spectrometric Tissue-Sample Preparation

Technology #13533

Applies UV-Absorbing Coating to Tissue Samples, Boosting Productivity and Increasing Revenue

This equipment allows users to more quickly prepare tissue samples for mass spectrometric analysis. The equipment automatically applies a UV-absorbing coating to tissue samples, readying them for imaging procedures that use matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) systems. Mass spectrometry has improved dramatically with the introduction of MALDI mass spectrometric systems, which can be used for examining protein structure and function. These systems gave rise to the field of proteomics (a combination of the words protein and genome) with a global market expected to reach nearly $22 billion by 2021. Proteomic research fuels drug discovery as well as the proliferation of customized diagnostic tests and individualized medical treatments. Because MALDI systems can identify proteins, peptides and a host of other biomolecules with sensitivity, they are fast becoming standard laboratory equipment. However, preparing tissue samples for testing remains a slow and arduous process because a UV-absorbing matrix must be painstakingly applied to each sample one at a time. Human error is a major concern. Applying an overly thick or thin UV-absorbing matrix, for example, causes variation in signal intensity and extraction of analytes within the tissue that can compromise test results. When researchers and diagnosticians must discard these poorly prepared samples and repeat tests with a new batch, time and money are wasted. The equipment developed by University of Florida researchers automates and streamlines this procedure, disbursing a thin and even coating on many samples simultaneously. In addition to removing a tedious burden on medical researchers and clinical diagnosticians, the new technology boosts productivity, increasing revenue.


Equipment that makes tissue-sample preparation for mass spectrometric imaging faster and easier


  • Device is automated, ensuring consistent, high-quality results
  • Speeds output, eliminating the bottleneck problem at preparation tables in busy labs
  • Reduces human error, decreasing the need for oversight by highly trained personnel
  • Lessens the need for repeat tests, saving time and money
  • Uses a durable design and chemically resistant components, preventing breakage


Because it has no moving parts and is designed with stainless steel and chemically resistant components, the equipment developed by UF researchers is extremely durable. The pressure-driven sprayer can apply a uniform coating across a succession of 96 well sample plates. Its digital computer called a programmable logical controller or PLC (similar to the ones used in assembly lines) regulates two solenoid valves. These values dictate the amount of gas, which first passes through a pair of pressure regulators. The pressure regulator on the inlet stream is equipped with a filter to remove any impurities that could contaminate the samples. The non-filtered line connects to a pneumatic value that controls spray duration, while the filtered line connects to the nozzle body opposite the matrix solution inlet. Even highly concentrated matrix solutions cannot cause nozzle clogging, as they are held in a gravity-fed cup. The user can customize spray height, spray duration, temperature and other aspects of the invention.