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Spatial metabolite profiling of biological samples using near-field MALDI Open Access

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Chemical analysis of biomolecules directly from cell samples is essential to understand the complex biochemical processes occurring in cells. Studying the spatial distribution of these molecules at a sub-cellular level is especially useful for understanding the functionality of the cell. Currently the identification and structural characterization of biomolecules such as proteins and metabolites in tissue samples and large cells (approx.100 μm) are possible through mass-spectrometry-based soft ionization techniques. In order to probe the role of these molecules in smaller cells such as myoblast, fibroblast, etc., a method with a higher spatial resolution is needed. To achieve this goal, in this dissertation research, a novel ion source is designed to study the sub-cellular spatial distribution of biomolecules of biological samples in ambient conditions. In this dissertation, it has been shown that various biomolecules can be detected with a spatial resolution of 1.5 μm using the combination of near-field techniques and mass spectrometry. With this combination, it will ultimately be possible to directly analyze cellular samples by using growth media as matrix, without altering the original spatial distribution: a useful avenue for understanding the complex biochemical processes occurring in cells.

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