Mass Spectrometry Imaging Accelerator (MSIA)

Accelerator system that enables highly accurate automated 3D mass spectrometry imaging in combination with a mass spectrometer (MALDI-TOF/MS or LC-MS/MS).


  • LC-MS/MS enables more precise measurements than conventional MALDI-TOF/MS high-resolution mass microscopy.
  • 3D spatial resolution of less than 1 µm compared to a maximum 2D resolution of 5 µm in conventional high-resolution mass microscopy.
  • When using MALDI-TOF/MS, previously undetectable macromolecular components and poorly soluble peptide molecules can be comprehensively detected by controlling ionization interference of the sample.
  • MSIA prototypes are being used in our laboratory to analyze signal peptides and other substances.

Background and Technology

High-resolution mass spectrometry microscopy, a mass spectrometry imaging technique, enables simultaneous profiling and two-dimensional imaging of target biomolecules and exogenous molecules (e.g., drugs) using positional information and detected ion signal intensity on tissue sections using MALDI-TOF/MS. This is useful for pharmacokinetic and action analysis in drug discovery. However, there were some limitations such as difficulty in resolution at the single cell level, inability to analyze biological macromolecules, and inability to use LC-MS, which has excellent detection sensitivity and accuracy.
We have developed the mass spectrometry imaging accelerator MSIA, which solves the above problems, and are conducting research in combination with LC-MS/MS. For example, we are conducting mass spectrometry imaging to analyze single-cell pharmacokinetics and drug effects in mouse hippocampal tissue (figure below).


Reference and Patent

  • Multiple patents registered, including JP 6562404, US 10627316, EP3282241, etc.

Principal Investigator

Makoto SAWADA, Prof. (Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University, Tokai National Higher Education and Research System)

Current Stage and Next Step

  • The prototype MSIA has been developed in collaboration with several partner companies, and a mass spectrometry imaging system combining LC-MS/MS and the prototype MSIA is being used for actual research.
  • Seeking partner companies to complete the MSIA as a product and work to commercialize and market it.


Project No: BK-04480

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