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Thinking outside the box with metabolic musings: A prequel to ASMS 2017

By Dorea Reeser

The fascinating world of metabolite identification is something I’ve been learning a lot about recently. The process of drug discovery to drug development to meeting regulations, and the complicated (often manual) workflow. My informant is colleague, Richard Lee. An easy-going and friendly guy with a vast resource of information ranging from metabolite research to cheesy chick flicks (don’t tell him I shared the latter).

Thinking outside the box is inherent to research discoveries, and quite possibly, one of the most invaluable skills that should (hopefully) be developed/honed during grad school. I found myself discussing this with Richard earlier this week. Richard studied the metabolomics of the oxidative stress on biological systems when he was working on his Ph.D. He told me that his supervisor at McMaster University, Philip Britz-McKibbon, was very “hands off”, which gave him the opportunity to learn how to think outside the box. This led him to an interesting study. While using methods developed earlier in his graduate studies, Richard wanted to know how lymphocyte cells would respond to irradiation. How would they preserve and protect themselves? He discovered that, once the main antioxidants were depleted, the white blood cells would use any type of amino acid for protection (make sure you eat protein after a workout!). The questions he asked, the methods he developed, and the interesting results, were in part possible because of the resources available to him, yet his ability to work and think independently was key.

It seems fitting that, 9 years later, Richard finds himself as the solutions manager for metabolite identification and characterization at ACD/Labs. He works with xenobiotic metabolism researchers while thinking outside the box. What are their greatest challenges? How can we fix them? These are big questions, and it seems the greatest challenge is the bottleneck during metabolite identification workflows and reporting. He has been working closely with the ACD/Labs development team to create and implement our latest product, MetaSense®.


I asked Richard what makes MetaSense special, and he told me that ““Metabolite structures are more reliably isolated using MetaSense because it uniquely combines MS-MS data with ACD/Labs’ gold standard PhysChem properties for prediction.” Its workflow has several desirable features to improve both reliability and metabolite identification efficiency:

  1. Auto generation of biotransformation maps, and stability and kinetic plots
  2. An interactive and searchable database
  3. Ability to report in one click


Come say hello to us in Indianapolis at ASMS 2017!

If you’re in Indianapolis for ASMS 2017 this week, you can learn more about MetaSense at:

  • Booth #711
  • Wednesday, June 7th, Poster Presentation “A new method for analyzing MSe/All Ions Fragmentation in xenobiotic metabolism studies”
  • Wednesday, June 7th, Poster Presentation “A new biotransformation prediction engine integrated into a metabolite identification solution”
  • ACD/Labs breakfast seminar on Monday, June 5th at 6:45—8:15: register here

By attending our breakfast seminar, you will also get to learn about: how Dow AgroSciences is “Implementing Method Development Software for Complex Chromatography Problems”, and what’s coming up in Spectrus v2017.1 to be released later this summer. In addition we will also be presenting on “A Unifying, Informatics-Based Approach to Life Cycle Management of Impurity Data in Pharmaceutical Developmenta”, Tuesday, Jun 6th at 2:30 PM.