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New Technology Acquisition to Strengthen Waters' Health Science Initiative

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Waters have announced the acquisition of Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) technology from MediMass Ltd.  The acquisition comes after the company's three-year collaboration with MediMass and Imperial College London that focused on advancing the technology.

To learn more about REIMS and how the benefits this provides Waters we spoke to Dr. Mike Morris, Ph.D. C.Chem., F.R.S.C., Senior Director, Mass Spectrometry Research, Waters Division. 

AB: Can you tell me more about the Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) technology? 

Mike Morris (MM): REIMS is an ionization technique that can be used as a source for direct analysis of samples by mass spectrometry.  It is the enabling technology behind the "Intelligent Knife" or “iKnife”, a device in the conceptual stages of development that could potentially be used for real-time diagnostics in surgery. To date, no regulatory approvals have been sought for this device. 

However, last year Imperial College London researchers published in the journal Science Translational Medicine results of a preliminary REIMS study aimed to  histological and histopathological tissue types, with malignant tissues yielding chemical characteristics specific to their histopathological subtypes. Tissue identification via intraoperative REIMS matched the postoperative histological diagnosis in 100% (all 81) of the cases studied. The mass spectra reflected lipidomic profiles that varied between distinct histological tumor types and also between primary and metastatic tumors. Thus, in addition to real-time diagnostic information, the spectra provided additional information on divergent tumor biochemistry that may have mechanistic importance in cancer.

AB: Waters’ experience with REIMS technology comes from your 3-year collaboration with MediMass and Imperial College London, what did you see during this time that made you want to acquire the technology? 

MM: The three-year collaboration among Waters, MediMass and Imperial College London focused on, and continues to be, advancing REIMS technology capabilities for a range of different applications. From our collaboration, we learned that the transient nature of the REIMS signals is ideally suited to Waters' time-of-flight mass analyzers.  

We also learned that REIMS fits Waters' fundamental business strategy of extending the application and impact of our core analytical technologies. We will look to combine our experiences over the past three years with our long history of developing mass spectrometry technologies to investigate the full potential REIMS technology applications across several vertical market segments. 

AB: You will be making a REIMS ion source commercially available, what will this new addition enable and how will it benefit Waters’ customers? 

MM: While REIMS technology has shown the ability to bring ambient ionization sampling into real world applications, it is too early in its development to speculate on its impact. 

The company is committed to exploring the full potential of this technology for both regulated and non-regulated applications.

AB: REIMS has been investigated for clinical diagnostics, microbiology and food safety applications, will you continue to focus on all these areas or is there an intention to concentrate on the clinical applications to support your Health Sciences initiative? 

MM: Once again, it is too early to speculate on specific applications for REIMS technology.  We are excited to continue our partnership with Imperial College London to explore clinical/health science applications for REIMS. We are equally excited about the possibility of expanding our exploration with additional  partners for other applications. 

Mike Morris was speaking to Ashley Board, Managing Editor for Technology Networks. You can find Ashley on  and follow Technology Networks on Twitter.