ASMS 2008: New Products and Previews

The 56th American Society for Mass Spectrometry Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics (ASMS) was held at the Denver, Colorado, convention center from June 1 to June 5. The ASMS meeting continued its trend of increasing attendance, which was up close to 2% to 6,569. The number of exhibitors dropped by 12 to 171 this year after increasing nearly 30% in 2007 (see IBO 6/15/07). Many of the exhibitors that were in attendance were more active than in previous years, with more end-users’ meetings on the preceding weekend and five press conferences, in contrast to the three press conferences held at 2007’s meeting. This year’s ASMS meeting featured more than 2,500 presentations, in addition to the many oral presentations, lunch meetings and working group meetings. The number of abstracts in nearly all major product categories was up from 2007 (see graph, page 8). The most dramatic increase was for Q-Trap, for which the number of abstracts mentioning the technique nearly doubled. However, this number was only slightly higher than in 2006. This year, there were more abstracts on GC/MS, triple quadrupole and FT-ICR than in the last five years, which is likely related to the increasing activities in the environmental and food industries. Several of the major MS vendors introduced new instruments at the show this year, with an obvious focus on triple quadrupole and Q-TOF LC/MS systems. Some of the new introductions, however, will not be ready to ship until 2009, demonstrating an eagerness on the part of some vendors to begin wooing potential customers quite early. Thermo Fisher Scientific introduced two new systems at this year’s ASMS, including an addition to its TSQ triple quadrupole LC/MS line, and an all-new LC/MS instrument based on the company’s hugely successful Orbitrap mass analyzer. Thermo’s new TSQ Vantage is positioned above the current Ultra and Access models of the TSQ product line, and has 10 times the sensitivity of the Ultra, according to the company, which is primarily due to its next-generation optics. The TSQ Vantage is priced to compete with upper-tier tandem LC/MS systems in the $400,000–$450,000 range, and is now shipping. Also introduced by Thermo at ASMS was the Exactive benchtop LC/MS system, which is based around the Orbitrap mass analyzer. In contrast to Thermo’s LTQ-Orbitrap and LTQ-FT, the Exactive is not a tandem system, which greatly lowers its price, but it can still provide MS/MS. In addition, the Exactive has the same HCD (higher collision decomposition) scanning capability of the LTQ-Orbitrap, but is a faster system, providing 10,000 resolution at 10 scans per second, or 100,000 resolution at 1 scan per second. Despite the fact that the Exactive is categorized as an FT/MS, it is priced and positioned to compete against LC-TOF and LC-Q-TOF instrumentation. The Exactive will be priced in the $250,000–$350,000 range and the first shipments are expected by October. Thermo also introduced new software and consumables products. The Proteome Discoverer proteomics analysis software, which will replace the company’s Bioworks software, enables the comparison of MS data from a multitude of sources and comes with a SEQUEST license. Introducing a new labeling technology for protein quantitation, Thermo Scientific released the TMT Isobaric Mass Tagging Kits, based on technology exclusively licensed from Proteome Sciences. Bruker introduced an all-new high-end LC/MS Q-TOF system that is built to achieve high-resolution along with high-speed. The new maXis system has a resolution of 40,000–60,000 when scanning at 20 spectra per second, and a 1 ppm mass accuracy for both MS and MS/MS, according to Bruker. Despite being a very tall floor-standing system, the maXis is designed to take up a very small footprint, and operates on standard single-phase power. Bruker’s primary competitive target for the maXis is Thermo’s LTQ-Orbitrap product line. The starting US list price for the maXis is $575,000 and it is expected to begin shipping in September. One other item of note from Bruker at ASMS was its announcement of a GC-APCI interface for its micrOTOF II LC/MS TOF instrument, which was introduced at Pittcon (see IBO 3/15/08). This is a new direction for Bruker, as the company has not actively developed or marketed products for the GC/MS market before. Agilent introduced a trio of new instruments at ASMS, including a triple quadrupole LC/MS, an LC/MS Q-TOF and a triple quadrupole GC/MS. Agilent’s 6460 is a new addition to its 6400 Series triple quadrupole LC/MS product line, which has been wildly successful since Agilent’s recent entrance into this market segment. The 6460 features subfemtogram sensitivity, thanks largely to Agilent’s new Jet Stream technology for enhancing the ionization and nebulization processes, which is an integrated part of the system. The Jet Stream technology also features prominently on Agilent’s new 6530 LC/MS Q-TOF system, which is the third model in the 6500 product line. Agilent claims the 6530 has better than 50,000 resolution when run at 20 scans per second. US pricing for the 6460 starts at $350,000, and pricing for the 6530 starts at $505,000. Both models are set to begin shipping this September. Also new from Agilent at the show was its 7000A triple quadrupole GC/MS. The system marks Agilent’s entry into the triple quadrupole GC/MS market, and makes it the fourth major competitor in the segment (see IBO 2/29/08). The 7000A is heavily based on Agilent’s 5975C GC/MSD in terms of both external feel, the interface for the user, the quartz quadrupole mass analyzer and other internal components of the system. This was a very early preview of the system, as Agilent does not expect to begin shipping the 7000A until January 2009. Pricing has yet to be determined, but is expected to be between $200,000 and $250,000. Agilent also announced its new Triple Axis detector for the 5973 GC/MSD, which is also available as an upgrade to existing systems at a price between $3,000 and $4,000. Waters introduced a new high-end triple quadrupole LC/MS, as well as its own version of an external column nanoLC system. Waters’ new Xevo, its next-generation triple quadrupole LC/MS, has selected by IBO as this year’s best new product at ASMS (see page 6). The Xevo makes use of a novel CID (collision-induced dissociation) technology that incorporates Waters’ Scanwave technology, which provides additional selectivity. Waters intends for the Xevo to eventually replace its successful Quattro Premier XE. The Xevo is priced starting near $450,000 and is expected to begin shipping in the third quarter. Also new from Waters at the show was the Trizaic UPLC, which is a tile-based nanoscale HPLC system. The Trizaic combines Waters’ UPLC technology with individual tiles that act as cartridges or chips that include a nanoscale column. ASMS was a preview of the Trizaic, which is not expected to ship until early 2009. Among other major MS vendors, Shimadzu had rolled out a revamped line of MALDI-TOF instruments earlier this year at Pittcon, but did not promote them heavily at ASMS. The line consists of the AXIMA Performance reflectron MALDI TOF/TOF MS for CID MS/MS, the AXIMA Confidence reflectron MALDI-TOF MS and the AXIMA Assurance linear MALDI-TOF MS. Applied Biosystems introduced a host of new software products that are generally targeted at nonexperts and designed for ease of use. There were very few other introductions of systems or major related equipment. The recently created 1st Detect division of Spacehab showed its new Miniature Mass Spectrometer, which is based on the same ion trap technology that Spacehab developed for NASA. The new system weighs less than 15 lbs, has a mass range of 1–300 amu and MSn capability. 1st Detect plans to market the system to the military and first responders. The system will be available in the third quarter with a price point of well under $50,000.

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