Division Spotlight: Lipidomics Division

Posted on April 12, 2021

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Tucker Hallmark, PhD, Production Manager for the Lipidomics Division, answered a few questions for us!

Q: What is a new/exciting project or initiative that the Lipidomics Team is working on?

A: Some of our best-selling products are our SPLASH® mixes, which are internal standard solutions containing lipids at predefined concentrations; this allows researchers to more accurately quantitate lipids via mass spectrometry-based methods. These mixes are very powerful tools in biomedical research, particularly in identifying potential biomarkers for diseases. One new SPLASH® mix in development is SphingoSPLASH, which will contain a variety of sphingolipid species and allow more accurate quantitation of this particular family of lipids from cerebrospinal fluid, plasma, and other biological samples. Sphingolipids play important roles in cell signaling and membrane composition, particularly in nerve cells. Disruptions in sphingolipid metabolism are connected to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, making it is critically important that biomedical researchers are able to accurately measure this diverse family of lipids.

Q: Can you describe for us the general process that the Lipidomics Team uses to turn an idea into a finished product?

A: We stay aware of current trends in the literature, and we also collaborate with groups using our lipids in both academic and private institutions. This points us toward potential new product ideas (individual lipids or lipid mixtures) which may be useful to the lipid community. If there is a need for a lipid that is not already in the Avanti catalog, we work with R&D to develop that lipid. That lipid would then go to the Analytical department for characterization, and ultimately the product would be formulated to suit the customer’s needs. Formulation involves ensuring accurate quantities of lipid are combined in appropriate solvents, and that these solutions are then packaged in the way that best fits the consumer’s application.

Q: Tell us about your partnership with the International Lipidomics Society (iLS) and the Lipidomics Standard Initiative (LSI) and why these organizations are so important for the lipidomics community?

A: We share a lot of common goals with both iLS and LSI (an interest group within iLS), which makes our sponsorship of the organizations mutually beneficial. Shared interests include promoting the use of lipidomic technologies in research, aiding the development of new lipidomics tools, and fostering collaboration between researchers around the globe to improve the science of lipidomics.

The focus of LSI is directly applicable to what we do here in the Avanti Lipidomics Division, as the aim of LSI is to standardize how lipidomic studies are performed. As lipidomics is based on mass spectrometry, and MS set-ups can differ greatly from lab to lab, there is a vital need for lipid standards that allow researchers to standardize their results and minimize the effects of inter-lab variation.

A 2017 study (Bowden et al, Journal of Lipid Research) revealed how great inter-lab variation is in lipidomics. Thirty-one labs across the world were asked to analyze the lipidome of the same plasma samples using their preferred method. Results showed that even some of the most abundant lipids were not detected in one-third of the participating labs, pointing toward a need for standardization in the field, particularly with internal standards.

We pride ourselves on producing the highest quality lipid standards and lipid standard mixes. Using these tools is key to normalizing measurements between different research groups and allowing for a stronger consensus within the lipid community regarding lipid concentrations. Researchers can then more confidently translate their findings into meaningful biological information.

Q: What is currently the best-selling Lipidomics product?

A: SPLASH® LIPIDOMIX® Mass Spec Standard is an incredibly popular product with our customers. The internal standard mix is comprised of 14 deuterated lipids at concentrations similar to that of human plasma. Users simply add a small amount of SPLASH® to their samples and perform their lipid extraction and MS analysis according to their protocol. When performing quantitation, the SPLASH®-spiked samples have built-in standards to allow for more accurate quantitation of lipid species. The SPLASH® formulation was developed in collaboration with Dr. Kim Ekroos who serves as the president of iLS, as well as founder and CEO of Lipidomics Consulting Ltd.

Check out the Lipidomics Division page to learn even more!

Want to discuss a project? Contact our Lipidomics team!

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