Zeteo Tech’s digitalMALDI™ Technology

Zeteo Tech is developing a time-of-flight mass spectrometer for measurement of high molecular weight, non-volatile bio-active chemicals and biomarkers of airborne disease. We are focused on sampling bioaerosol from the ambient air or exhaled breath. When sampling exhaled breath, we focus on analyzing the bioaerosol from deep in the lung.

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How Does MALDI Work?

MALDI mass spectrometry uses a matrix chemical, which is coated onto or mixed with to the bioaerosol. An ultraviolet laser pulse is used to desorb and ionize the high molecular weight, non-volatile biomarkers in the bioaerosol. The vapor phase ions are then accelerated to the detector, and the heavy ions arrive after the smaller, lighter ions. Thus, the time-of-flight can be related directly to the ion mass. The acronym MALDI is used to name this ionization process: matrix-¬assisted, laser desorption and ionization, or MALDI. MALDI mass spectrometry for biomarker identification was pioneered in late 1980s as is now used world-wide as the gold standard in clinical laboratories for bacterial identification.

A major challenge with MALDI mass spectrometry arises when the sample to be analyzed is cluttered with a high density of background microbes and biochemicals. In other words, a large amount of clutter in a sample will make it more challenging to determine if a smaller quantity of a specific biomarker is present in the sample. Clinical laboratories use MALDI for bacterial identification, and these labs eliminate the clutter problem by growing up a culture from each clinical sample. They then analyze what has grown in the culture. The culture step is very slow, but results in a sample that is highly enriched with the target biomarkers, and conversely, largely devoid of “clutter”.

The digitalMALDI™ Difference

Zeteo Tech’s digitalMALDI™ technology pushes MALDI technolgoy to a whole new level for speed, sensitivity and specificity. Our instruments obtain biomarker measurements from individual particles in the bioaerosol. We are able to complete a biomarker-specific molecular-level identification with as few 10 particles. We can achieve this remarkable sensitivity with a combination of proprietary bioaerosol processing and mass spectrometry advances that enable us to obtain measurements from very small, decluttered samples. For bacterial analyses, no culturing is needed. As an added benefit, our system can detect non-culturable bacteria as well as viruses- something that can’t be done with other MALDI instruments. Our ground-breaking advances in sample decluttering have resulted in the digitalMALDI™ platform: exceptionally fast, sensitive and specific.

Application Development

Zeteo Tech is developing commercial applications for the digitalMALDI™ technology. Present applications include analysis of breath aerosol for infection disease and detection of airborne bio-threat agents within critical infrastructure. Are you interested in exploring a new application through a joint development project? Give us a call to discuss to your application.