Staff Services Student Enterprise

Analysis for small molecule pharmacological studies

Project contact
Dr Aurora Piñas-Fernández
Find out how you can work with the University’s world-class inflammation expertise and state of the art facilities that will provide the solution to your research questions.

The Mass Spectrometry Core is a facility equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for sample preparation, chromatographic separation and mass spectrometry analysis for small molecule quantitation of biomarkers and drugs.

The team including Dr Natalie Homer, Professor Ruth Andrew and Scott Denham have expertise in bioanalysis of a wide range of sample types: plasma, serum, whole blood, urine, saliva, tissue and cells. They are also able to develop protocols for small molecule drugs for pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics studies and have experience in commercial studies.

The team carry out studies in clinical, preclinical (e.g. rodent, canine, porcine) and biological samples (e.g. cells, microsomal stability studies for drug discovery). They have a number of novel validated quantitative methods for endogenous molecules including multiple steroids and steroid metabolism, tryptophan and kynurenine metabolism and panels of bile acids. They continuously develop novel methods tailored to specific questions and need and can include endogenous markers along with drug measurement to confirm compliance.

Dr Homer and team have worked with external companies for the analysis of steroids in clinical research studies. They have measured drugs and indicative biomarkers that are being repurposed for clinical applications such as dichloroacetate and thiamine.

Early work with the team in the facility on kynurenine metabolism analysis by LC-MS/MS in the context of acute pancreatitis has been pivotal in establishing a spin-off company, Kynos therapeutics. They work with a number of companies resident on campus.

Professor Andrew and team are familiar with developing sample extraction, chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry methods, validated following European Medicines Agency requirements. They operate our facility under Good Clinical Practice (GCP) for laboratories, ensuring a chain of custody for biological samples, following detailed method SOPs for all methods and the confidence that all instrumentation and equipment is under service contract with routine maintenance.

Scott Denham and team have an Extrahera liquid handling robot by Biotage for 96-well format plate extractions, bringing efficiency and speed to sample preparation for large sample numbers. For tissues they have an Omni BeadRuptor with CryoUnit with tried and tested methods of homogenisation. They have a Sciex QTrap 6500+ connected to a Waters Acquity I-Class with multiple column compartments and a large capacity autosampler for multiple plates. More recently they have invested in a ThermoFisher Orbitrap Exploris 240, connected to a Vanquish Duo which offers online sample preparation, multiple plates for queued analysis and high resolution mass spectrometry analysis for application to metabolic pathways. They also have a Waters Xevo TQS and microflow Ion Key set up, aimed at peptide analysis, with I-Class Acquity system for standard flow analysis. In addition they have a ThermoFisher GC-MS/MS with headspace capability.

Find out how you can work with the University’s world-class inflammation expertise and for further details and to discuss your mass spectrometry needs for targeted analysis  please get in touch with Dr Aurora Piñas-Fernández.

Related Links

Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility

Kynos Therapeutics Spinout

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