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Increased understanding of life's smallest constituents through new infrastructure

News: Mar 27, 2014

The University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology have been awarded a grant of 37 million from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation for the opportunity to refine a technique to study how substances in cells vary. The technology can be used to study changes in the cells during diseases and treatments.

The grant is being awarded to the project "The Imaging metabolomics and lipidomics infrastructure", a project with a focus on imaging life's smallest constituents and to understand and interpret these elements in the unique environment of cells and tissues.

Detailed analysis of single cells

The recent advances in metabolomics and lipidomics, ie the study of metabolism and how the metabolites (small molecules) and lipids (fatty molecules) interact in cells and the human body, makes great demands on being able to understand and take chemical pictures of where the relevant molecules are.

A major focus for this area is therefore on chemical imaging and to analyze single cells using imaging mass spectrometry, a research field where the national center for imaging mass spectrometry (NCIMS), consisting of researchers from the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers, is already among the strongest in the world.

“Now, our capabilities will be complemented by adding a high resolution imaging technique - a Cameca NanoSIMS. The NanoSIMS is a key component here and will fill research needs in many scientific fields such as medicine, environmental, and material science in terms of access to this form of high resolution molecular imaging”, says Professor Andrew Ewing of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology.

New opportunities through new technologies

The Cameca NanoSIMS technique will be the first of its kind in Scandinavia and will involve a new and extremely valuable mass spectrometry method available for general use in Sweden. The technology will broaden the technological base for metabolomics and lipidomics and provide imaging at the nanoscale, where NanoSIMS can be used for imaging isotopically labeled molecules and other elements down to 50-nanometer resolution.

“We can now offer imaging and lipidomics of single cells and we will build our imaging platform to facilitate the connections to existing imaging techniques and other active platforms within lipidomics and metabolomics in Sweden and internationally,” says Professor Andrew Ewing.

In this year's application to the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation the Faculty of Science at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology succeeded particularly well in the competition receiving 114 million out of SEK 203 million awarded.

Contact:
Professor Andrew Ewing
Institutionen för kemi och molekylärbiologi
Tel: 031-786 9113
E-post: andrew.ewing@chem.gu.se

Photo: Johan Wingborg


 

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Note of clarification

In case of doubt or confusion, the Swedish version of this press release takes precedence.

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