The Reus-based Centre for Omic Sciences, a joint Rovira i Virgili University and Eurecat technology centre initiative and a node in the OmicsTech Unique Scientific and Technical Infrastructure, has acquired a new high-resolution mass spectrometer which is crucial for metabolomics and proteomics research in life sciences, biomedicine, agri-food and the environment.

The Thermo Scientific Orbitrap Eclipse Tribrid Mass Spectrometer has been funded with almost €1 million in public aid for Unique Scientific and Technical Infrastructures by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and by European Union Next Generation Funds under Spain’s Recovery and Resilience Plan.

“The Orbitrap Eclipse Tribrid device is extremely versatile and its high resolution and sensitivity mean it can be used in a wide variety of applications including proteomics, metabolomics, lipidomics and glycan analysis,” says Núria Canela, director of Eurecat’s Omic Sciences Unit in Reus and technical coordinator of the Centre for Omic Sciences joint unit made up of staff from Eurecat and Rovira i Virgili University.

“In biomedicine, it will make it possible to identify and quantify proteins and metabolites in low concentrations in biological samples which will help us to understand metabolic pathways in physiological or pathological conditions, discover biomarkers which can enable early diagnosis of diseases, monitor the progression of diseases and personalise medical treatments,” she notes. “It can also be used in drug discovery and development by analysing the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of bioactive compounds.”

The device has further applications in the environment and agri-food where it can be leveraged to identify and quantify pesticide residues, environmental pollutants and toxins in food to ensure food safety and compliance with health regulations. Núria Canela points out that “it allows analysis of persistent organic pollutants and chemical compounds in water and soil and studying the effects of pollutants on living organisms, looking at the bioavailability and metabolism of toxic compounds in different species.”

The new high-resolution device combines three types of mass analysers and is an indispensable tool in applying omics technologies, especially in metabolomics and proteomics research.

“All these applications will unlock new opportunities for the centre as they will enable us to expand our service portfolio, enhance metabolomics and proteomics research and step up our sample processing capacity,” argues Antoni Caimari, director of Eurecat’s Biotechnology Division.

Omics technologies and their potential in personalised medicine and nutrition

The new tool joins the cutting-edge technologies at the Centre for Omic Sciences (COS) which is part of ICTS OmicsTech alongside the National Centre for Genomic Analysis (CNAG) and the CRG and UPF Proteomics Unit.

The Centre for Omic Sciences delivers a full range of biomarker research services in health, food and the environment from project design support to analysing and integrating data gathered from various omics technologies.

These technologies have huge potential in personalised medicine and nutrition which draw on genetic information, molecular and omic biomarkers and information about a person’s lifestyle.

“These data allow better disease diagnosis and treatment by choosing the most appropriate approach for each patient in personalised medicine,” says Antoni Caimari.

As for personalised nutrition, “they make it possible to provide nutritional recommendations tailored to the individual and thus help to improve health and more effectively prevent diseases resulting from unhealthy habits or which are intrinsic to ageing,” he adds.

Omics technologies as a whole encompass areas of research such as genomics, which studies genes and their function; transcriptomics, which focuses on gene expression; proteomics, which analyses protein levels, modifications and interactions; and metabolomics, which investigates the levels of metabolites.