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AZ and Medicines Catapult collaborate on innovative sound tech in drug discovery

Collaborates with Medicines Discovery Catapult on AMI-MS


AstraZeneca has unveiled a collaborative venture with the UK's Medicines Discovery Catapult, aiming to harness the use of sound in Mass Spectrometry to accelerate drug discovery.

Mass Spectrometry is a very well established analytics technique that can identify molecules in a mixture, detect impurities in a sample, analyse purified proteins and allows for the study of protein content.

Molecules in a sample are vaporised, and converted into ions by an electron beam to produce an analysis, however the technique has limitations in the rate at which samples can be introduced into the mass detector.

One way to get around this limitation is Acoustic Mist Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (AMI-MS), a technique that can analyse up to three samples per second, or more than 100,000 samples per day.


Image: AMI-MS technology in operation

This hi-tech approach is what AstraZeneca and the Medicines Discovery Catapult are hoping to build on with the new collaboration.

Funded by Innovate UK, a UK government agency, the MDC is one of a series of 'Catapult' not-for-profit companies set up to provide technical infrastructure and support for hi tech sectors. It brings together a fragmented sector, including industry, academia, charities, technologists, services, finance companies, SMEs and start-ups in order to help the UK become a leader in the next generation of drug discovery innovation.

Dr Jon Wingfield, Principal Scientist, Innovative Medicines and Early Development (IMED) Biotech Unit at AstraZeneca said: “We are investing in groundbreaking 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.”

Unlike traditional Mass Spectrometry technologies that use a needle to inject a liquid sample into the mass detector, AMI technology uses sound energy, which operates by lifting a fine mist of charged droplets from the surface of a sample.

It’s a hands-free operation, so it also eliminates any risk of contamination.

Dr Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer of the Medicines Discovery Catapult, said: “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.”

Meanwhile, Medicines Discovery Catapult is upping the ante with its drug discovery collaborations. Just last month it received funding from Innovate UK to develop artificial intelligence in drug discovery, a project that sees the not-for-profit align with two software solutions companies.

Article by
Gemma Jones

22nd October 2018

From: Research



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