On June 14th, the 2023 NVMS Spring symposium was held at Wageningen Food Safety Research in Wageningen. We had a full house with over 70 attendees from industry and academia. The program featured 7 lectures of Ph.D. students and postdocs representing a nice cross section of the research that is ongoing across the Netherlands.
The first morning session was all about identifying unknown metabolites: first up was Peng Che from the VU in Amsterdam who nicely illustrated the added value of using electron-activated dissociation (EAD) in complementing collision-induced dissociation (CID) in the analysis of new psychoactive substances. By combining the data obtained by both types of fragmentation methods, isomers could be easily distinguished and further characterized.
Subsequently, Kas Houthuijs from the FELIX laboratory in Nijmegen talked about his contribution to setting up an IRIS database containing spectral data obtained by IR-MS, that shows to be a powerful addition to the toolbox used to identify unknown metabolites, for example coming from human metabolism, or from the natural metabolism of pesticides.
Following the first coffee break, during which a very nice collection of posters were presented and discussed, Ariadni Geballa-Koukoula from Wageningen Food Safety Research delivered a presentation on how she has expanded the concept of blade spray MS for the analysis of, for example, mycotoxins by using immunoaffinity blades, containing specific antibodies against a molecule of interest.
Then it was time for the General Assembly of the NVMS, followed by lunch.
After lunch and again an opportunity to visit posters, the afternoon program was kicked off by Quentin Duaz from the Radboud University in Nijmegen. He presented about coupling flow reactors to mass spectrometry, to enable the analysis of chemical reaction networks. Firstly, he showed an application to quantitatively asses the dynamics of products from glycolytic reactions and he ended by showing how to design a chemical computer using data obtained from monitoring the formose reaction.
Next up was Lidia Molina Millan from M4I in Maastricht. She presented on the use of MALDI-2 to enhance ionization, and thereby improve the analysis, of polymers. Lidia convincingly showed the added value of MALDI-2 for this purpose, both from a qualitative and from an imaging perspective, and explained why the analysis of polystyrene yielded some interestingly deviating results. The technique is envisioned to be used to analyze the presence and distribution of (micro)plastics in organisms and tissue.
After yet another well-catered coffee break, the last session was initiated by Joshua Maliepaard from Utrecht University. Joshua showed a very nice and relatively straightforward way to analyze glycopeptide isomers using the intensity of certain diagnostic fragment ions as a function of collision energy. In this way, amongst others, isomers of sialylated glycan species can be analyzed, without the need for derivatization.
Subsequently, Agatha Depraz Depland from the VU in Amsterdam, delivered an interesting story about the progress she’s been making to decipher aggregation of a peptide derived from synuclein using ion mobility mass spectrometry and she was able to show that her IM-MS data nicely correlate to data obtained by extrinsic fluorescence using ThT.
The program was completed by a presentation by Arjen Gerssen, who gave a comprehensive overview of how mass spectrometry is being applied at Wageningen Food Safety Research: with a pool of 45 (!) mass spectrometers of all kinds, including some quite exotic ones. The lab is able of running over 300 analytical methods for over 80.000 samples per year, varying from complaints about medical products claimed to be 100% natural, to peanuts entering the European Union via Rotterdam harbor to products coming from slaughter houses that have to be checked for hormones and other unwanted substances.
After closing the lecture part of the Spring symposium, an opportunity was provided to all attendees to visit the labs and witness all mass spectrometers at work in real life, which was gladly accepted by a lot of people. Again, Arjen Gerssen, together with Marco Blokland and Ariadni Geballa-Koukoula functioned as guides to allow people a view behind the scenes of WFSR.
Lastly, a nice assortment of drinks and bites, sponsored by MS Vision, could be enjoyed while reminiscing about the day, networking and being informed about new developments in the field of MS hardware and software after which all mass spec enthusiast went his or her way again.
Thanks to all people that contributed to making the NVMS Spring symposium a success, especially Arjen Gerssen!