There are certain limitations and challenges posed by the use of mass spectrometry for analysis of small organic molecules in complex samples. Among the limiting factors are the requirement for multiple procedures and/or instrumentation, use of high temperatures, lack of sensitivity, and incomplete detection. High temperatures can decompose analytes while increasing side reactions, which increase noise and lower sensitivity. There are compounds which can be detected by electrospray mass spectrometry (usually coupled to liquid chromatography; LC-MS), but not by electron impact mass spectrometry (usually coupled to gas chromatography). While triple quadrupole mass spectrometers can provide high sensitivity, they are expensive, and still have limitations in detecting certain compounds. In some instances, multiple mass spectrometers are required for detection of different compounds within the same sample. An example of this is the analysis and detection of marijuana. An LC-MS instrument is required to detect cannabinoids, while a GC-MS is required to detect terpenes. 
There is a need for the analysis of a complex sample by a single method. This technology would be beneficial in several areas of diagnostics including drugs, disease, forensics and homeland security. 
Technology Overview
This technology involves a process whereby analytes are covalently reacted with mass tag reagents for increased sensitivity. Through this process, referred to as Photo-Cation Enhanced Detection, or PCED, the sample is covalently modified photolytically with a cationic reagent prior to analysis through mass spectrometry. The cation reagent of PCED bears a diazirine group for photoreactivity. Activation of the diazirine moiety of a PCED reagent by UV light forms a reactive carbene. This activation is done in the presence of the sample to be labeled, achieving quick, broad to complete cationic labeling of organic compounds in the sample, at room temperature, or reduced temperature. Through this process, as an example, compounds that have only been detected by GC-MS, can now also be detected by LS-MS. Therefore, a single procedure is able to accomplish the analysis of both classes of compounds. 
- Allows for analysis and detection of a range of organic compounds in a single procedure 
- Mass tag reagents allow for greatly increased sensitivity 
- Can profile chemicals in variety of samples, including blood, sweat, breath, saliva 
- Faster and cheaper chemical analysis 
- Metabolomics 
- Drug analysis 
- Drug Detection 
- Forensics 
- Food Safety 
- License
- Partnering
- Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Pushkar Kulkarni
Analytical Chemistry