Cloud based platform designed to help scientists take measurements and share data publically

Written by Rhiannon Finnie (Future Science Group)

Researchers from Scripps Research (CA, USA), have released a novel technology designed to allow scientists to easily quantify small molecules from biological samples utilizing mass spectrometry and to make their results publicly available. The cloud-based analysis platform (XCMS-MRM and METLIN-MRM), is described in a paper recently published in Nature Methods, and also includes authors from the University of Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland),  Lausanne University Hospital (Lausanne, Switzerland), Geneva University Hospitals (Genève, Switzerland), Umeå University (Umeå, Sweden) and Imperial College London (London, UK).

The team from the Center for Metabolomics and Mass Spectrometry at Scripps Research, led by Gary Siuzdak (Scripps Research), specialize in mass spectrometry to identify and quantify small molecules.  It has been a long term aim of the team to keep their research tools free and open to the public.

Siuzdak, co-author of the paper, explained: “This is really about data sharing and accelerating the process of discovery. When we say ‘publicly available,’ we mean it. Anyone with a computer would have access.”

Since its launch in 2004, the XCMS/METLIN platform has expanded to include over 25,000 users. The number of molecules included in its data repository has increased by 1,000 in the last year.  The team believe this is due to its collaboration with Calibr (CA, USA), a division of Scripps Research.

Co-first authors, Xavier Domingo-Almenara (Scripps Research) and J Rafael Montengro-Burke (Scripps Research), explained: “Tens of thousands of labs around the world generate data using mass spectrometry, so the platform could be useful outside medicine as well.  Any field using mass spectrometry could benefit from these new resources, such as environmental sciences, pharmaceuticals, forensics, food control and sports medicine.”

“In an age where scientific results are being constantly questioned, open data has become an essential part of the discovery process,” co-author Paul Benton (Scripps Research) concluded.

Sources: Domingo-Almenara X, Rafael Montengro-Burke J, Ivanisevic J et al. XCMS-MRM and METLIN-MRM: a cloud library and public resource for targeted analysis of small molecules. Nat. Methods. 15, 681–684 (2018);