Meat & Livestock News

Purdue University’s Breakthrough in Real-Time Sample Analysis: Revolutionising Industrial and Agricultural Monitoring

Researchers at Purdue University are pioneering a new application of mass spectrometry, traditionally a complex laboratory technique, to enable real-time, point-of-care sample analysis in industrial and agricultural settings.

This innovative approach, led by Christina Ferreira, a metabolomics analyst at Purdue’s Metabolite Profiling Facility and Center for Analytical Instrument Development, simplifies the process, making it accessible to non-experts.

Traditionally, mass spectrometry involves a series of intricate steps, including homogenizing the sample, mixing it with organic solvents, centrifugation, drying, and then processing the data through statistical analysis. This time-consuming process, requiring expert handling, has been streamlined by Ferreira and her team.

The team has developed patent-pending biomarker panels and workflows that allow for the direct delivery of nanograms or nanoliters of a biological sample, typically lipids or metabolites, to the mass spectrometer.

This method eliminates the need for liquid chromatography or other sample preparation steps. Ferreira highlights the efficiency and simplicity of this high-throughput technology, which is less expensive and more adaptable for use outside of a laboratory setting.

Since 2016, Purdue researchers have been using this technology in various studies, resulting in over 40 peer-reviewed publications. The applications of this technology are diverse, ranging from distinguishing advanced Parkinson’s disease using cerebrospinal fluid to differentiating human polycystic ovary syndrome and coronary artery disease.

One notable application of this technology is in certifying beef quality. Collaborating with the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil, Ferreira’s team is using this method to determine cattle feed types and other meat quality characteristics, such as tenderness.

This approach offers a rapid and accurate method for meat certification, particularly in verifying grass-fed claims, which are often recognised as healthier than grain-fed beef.

The project received $43,600 from the Trask Innovation Fund, managed by the Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization. These funds are being used to create a prototype system for certifying meat quality in large meat plants, a process that can be completed within seconds without sample preparation.

Looking ahead, Ferreira aims to expand the applications of this technology. Potential uses include preventing food industry recalls by identifying bacterial growth like salmonella in products and screening for mycotoxins in various grains.

Another intriguing application is in studying the ability of embryos to reprogram cancer cells, making them less aggressive or even non-tumorigenic.

The Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization has applied for a patent to protect this innovative biomarker panel technology. Industry partners interested in commercialising this technology for the marketplace are encouraged to engage with the team.

This development at Purdue University represents a significant leap in simplifying and expediting sample analysis, with far-reaching implications for both industrial and agricultural sectors.