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2019 SIFT-MS Interest Group Meeting: Day 1 Round-Up

And so concludes the 2019 SIFT-MS Interest Group Meeting.

It was a great showcase of the diversity of how this technology is helping people solve complex analytical problems from fuel to olive oil, from cake to breath to waste water (always in that order).

Honestly, it’s too much to fit into one post so I’m splitting it down the middle. If you missed the event this time, worry not. We filmed the presentations and will be releasing videos as and when I can edit the 7 or 8 hours of footage. Watch this space!

Vaughan Langford started us off with his two studies on using SIFT-MS as a sensory tool. Vaughan’s interest in the area started in 2001 with the prospect of E-Sniffers and the high hopes by many that they would replace human sensory panels.

Personally my interest in this technology started in 1994 with the Smell Master 200, but even at 6 years old I was sceptical about how hard it would be to systemise the nuance of the experience of smell, something Vaughan touches on in his talk. His research in paperboard and wastewater treatment has led him to the conclusion that we’re unlikely to replace sensory panels but that we’ve already vastly improved their efficacy.

Next up was Bhamini Vadhwana from Imperial College, London talking about Oral Cleansing Strategies in a clinical context. When looking for exhaled biomarkers, you need to be sure that the compounds you’re measuring are from deep within the person you’re trying to treat, rather than the Crunchy Nut they had for breakfast. Bhamini took us through some of the ways in which SIFT-MS has been helping them hone in on the best strategies for getting more useful data.

Also from Imperial College, London, Michael Hewitt presented his work on using SIFT-MS to find bio-markers for liver disease. My biggest take home was that a technology made to give us better separation capabilities is improving the clinical experience of real people at a potentially stressful time. Breathing into a tube is a lot less unpleasant and invasive than giving loads of blood samples, even if you might need to feast on a lemon before doing so.

From livers to paracetamol. Georgia from CMAC ran us through the ground-breaking and potentially industry disrupting application SIFT-MS on real-time analysis of the drying process in pharmaceutical production. In a nutshell, it’s allowing them to see in real time when the process is complete and in so doing, saving them a metric shedload of time and CO2.

Just before lunch, Joeri Vercammen of Interscience showed us how they’re been trying to bring down the olive oil mafia by using SIFT-MS to identify counterfeit products. Following this was a robust discussion on the value of doing full scan or Selected Ion Monitoring in such cases. *Spoiler* full scan wins this one.

After some sandwiches and coffee was Anatune’s very own Mark Perkins with his impassioned presentation on the potential of Automated SIFT-MS. From my – let’s say – ‘differently technical’ vantage point, putting a multipurpose sampler on the SIFT-MS turns it into an almost completely different beast, capable of complementing work done in almost any laboratory.

After Mark was quite finished, we all headed round the corner for a tour of the Anatune lab and some of the best cake you are likely to eat (shoutout to my mother). Our guests were able to have a tinker with our demo instruments with all the bells and whistles you’d expect like multi-inlet ports and heated transfer lines.

A group meal at Côte Brasserie ended a stimulating and informative first day. The only thing left to do is name and shame Dr Mark Perkins for irresponsibly riding home with no front bike light. (In my defence, it broke on the way into town! – Mark).

Stay safe, don’t be like Mark.

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