This research is aimed at developing the methods necessary for measuring the site-specific chemical differentiation between diseased and healthy cell lines. The long-term strategic plan is to use these differences to develop disease-specific biomarkers based on multiple mass spectrometry and optical imaging methods in one comprehensive data set. This information will be used to develop the metrology tools necessary for atmospheric pressure-based, clinical diagnostics by imaging mass spectrometry.
In this preliminary work, cluster SIMS imaging is used to search for biologically relevant signals from aggregates of Escherichia coli. Assessments of the current state of sample preparation methods for such a purpose will be evaluated and directions for future experiments within the project goals are determined. Inorganic chemical signatures are localized to the cellular material and absent from the silicon support, verifying the ability of SIMS to obtain biologically relevant signals where appropriate. Based on images such as those below, we have determined the changes necessary for enhancing organic signals while minimizing extracellular inorganic signals. We have also identified the first disease pathway for study within a specially chosen cell line. Efforts are advancing for the second stage of this project.