Dr. Francis Beaudry is an Associate Professor at the veterinary biomedicine department of the Faculty of veterinary medicine of the Université de Montréal. He is an adjunct researcher at the Université de Montréal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). Additionally, he has held leadership positions in bioanalysis within pharmaceutical companies prior his tenure at Université de Montréal. Combined, Dr. Beaudry has 27 years of experience in mass spectrometry and bioanalysis. Dr. Beaudry’s research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Fonds de recherche du Québec, Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
Dr. Beaudry received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Sherbrooke University (Sherbrooke, Canada) and his doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge, UK). He has completed two-year postdoctoral research in proteomics and peptidomics at Université de Montréal prior to his appointment as associate professor in June 2009. Since June 2009, he has supervised or co-supervised 33 MSc and PhD students and he is the author or co-author of 122 peer reviewed manuscripts and 105 research abstracts.
We sat down with Dr. Beaudry to learn more about his use of Orbitrap technology in his research:
What does your current work involve and what does this work bring to the University of Montreal?
A significant proportion of my research program is devoted to the expansion of the MS toolbox for applications in proteomics and small molecule analysis. We are aiming to provide MS solutions to a diverse market and user base. We are always aiming to develop turnkey solutions in order to facilitate method integration in the laboratory with various degrees of experience in MS.
What is your experience with Orbitrap technology for non-targeted workflow? How do you prove the signal from a targeted method is the protein of interest?
This is a very open question that is not completely objective because it depends on our personal experience with the technology. I started working with MS in the early 90s. I have extensive experience with ion trap, triple quadrupole, Q-TOF and now Orbitraps. Based on my extensive experience with several types of analyzers and manufacturers, I can say without a doubt in my mind, Orbitraps, and particularly hybrid Orbitraps, are the “holy grail” of MS. Mass resolution and accuracy obtained with Orbitrap technology has a tremendous impact on data quality but also, has the potential to simplify workflows, particularly combined with AI.
This is performed with different tools depending on what we want to achieve. We are using Non-target data acquisition for target analysis (nDATA) approaches in general and have a complete set of spectra that allows us to perform detailed identification as well as using a fragment ion diagnostic strategy based on reference proteins or peptides.
In your current testing in meat authenticity with mass spectrometry, how do you see this applies specifically to Halal testing?
Absolutely! We have thoroughly demonstrated that Non-target data acquisition for target analysis (nDATA) approaches can be used for meat authenticity and adulteration. Additionally, we have performed a similar demonstration for gelatin. The analyses performed in DDA Top-10 were used to build a survey database at the heart of the development of a targeted method using PRM or MRM with triple quadrupole instruments. Also, one major advantage of nDATA is data mining which allows us to refine the detection methods and improve the toolbox, but also to revisit previously acquired data for further investigations.
Do you feel that Orbitrap and triple quadrupole technology can help food testing companies identify contamination and what kind of barriers do you see that will limit the use of this technology?
Both technologies are currently necessary and are used. Laboratories that focus strictly on targeted analysis are currently better served with triple quadrupole technology. However, with the active development of orbitrap technologies, particularly hybrid instruments, I think the vast majority of the methods could be adapted to be performed on Orbitraps. The mass accuracy and resolution of Orbitraps are the way of the future. However, the instrument sensitivity gap still exists and therefore justifies the use of triple quadrupole technology in 2019. Moreover, the power of mass accuracy and resolution of orbitraps will be unleashed with AI solutions and will be integrated.
Looking to the future, what do you think other scientists in food safety labs need to know about LC-HRAM MS and LC-MS/MS?
Personally, I think we need to cover knowledge gaps that exist. A lot of the problems scientists in food safety labs are facing currently are also faced by scientists working in other markets. Many solutions or approaches were developed during the early days of LC-MS/MS when essentially only scientists working in the pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical industry were working with this technology. Additionally, the performance of LC-HRAM MS and LC-MS/MS is highly dependent on the quality of the sample and how the sample is introduced into the MS. Better training in sample preparation and HPLC will significantly enhance the data quality and the instrument stability and robustness. As an example, high flow rate (0.5 – 1.5 mL/min) is not compatible with electrospray ionization since it favors the formation of large droplets, consequently, reduce nebulization efficiency and hampers the formation of gas phase ions. If using an HPLC, one should use microbore HPLC column and conditions.
Also, AI will play an important role for a wider implementation of MS-based solutions in food safety labs and for surveillance.
Would you recommend this technology to other scientists looking into Halal testing for food safety, not just for import but also export?
Again, absolutely! In fact, we have developed toolboxes using LC-HRAM MS and LC-MS/MS technologies and have exported these to a lab located in Kuala Lumpur. The lab was not only able to replicate our results, but was also able to use the method canvas, adapted and successfully use it to analyze over 27 different commodities including food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. To be honest, these accomplishments were above our expectation and truly demonstrated the power of our turnkey approach to develop MS toolboxes for applications such as proteomics and small molecule analysis.