July 2018

NML one of first laboratories to install new TOFWERK instrument

The Inorganic Analysis team within the National Measurement Laboratory (NML), hosted at LGC, recently had one of the first high resolution TOFWERK inorganic time of flight mass spectrometre (ICP-TOFMS) instruments in the world installed.

When coupled with sub-micron resolution laser ablation technology, the platform will extend our existing measurement capability to high throughput multiplexed analyses at the sub-cellular level, for example for the screening and quantification of cancer biomarkers.

This state-of-the-art technology forms part of the development of a unique novel measurement facility within the NML, funded through our Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) project ‘Measurement for Future Medicines’. As well as rapid inorganic and imaging analysis at the single cell level, this facility will support single cell measurements of other markers including RNA and DNA through our new cell sorting and improved flow cytometry capabilities.

Novel manufacturing methods rely on being able to measure and characterise the medicines accurately, both in their place of manufacture and in our bodies. Many biological experiments are performed on groups of cells, under the assumption that all cells of a particular ‘type’ are similar. However, studies of single cells reveal that individual cells within the same population may differ from each other and in their response to stimuli, having consequences for the efficacy of cell-based treatments. Greater understanding of real cellular variance and how it contributes to mean response using new techniques and technologies opens up analyses not otherwise possible.

Using the unique measurement expertise available within the NML, the increased sensitivity, speed and resolution of this platform will be used to provide a gold standard for quantitative single cell imaging to underpin routine techniques, such as mass cytometry, currently used in hospitals. This will help provide more accurate clinical diagnostics, inform drug treatment protocols, and provide evidence for effective targeting of disease.

As Heidi Goenaga-Infante, Science Fellow and Team Leader, noted: "This new technology will allow us to further develop our metrology infrastructure to support the future of medicines, for example by providing accurate dosing information for cancer treatment, or by providing further insights into drug delivery pathways in targeted therapies."
If you would like to find out more about the ISCF project or are interested in working with us in this area, please contact Measurement Services.