Making Mass Analysis Smarter for Biopharma
There’s no question that we’ve entered the age of smart technology. Your phone, your home, your refrigerator, even your light bulbs are all getting smarter.
Such technologies do more and more to run themselves, removing steps and complexity, while making user interactions easier and more intuitive. They continually improve, and as they do they become more commonly used. The ways in which smart technology have improved our lives are innumerable, including through efficiency, convenience, and accessibility.
Recently, Waters™ launched the BioAccord™ System. We are very excited about this new system for biopharma analysis and are proud to call it “the First SmartMS™-Enabled Biopharma Solution.” However, you might be wondering what we mean by “SmartMS.” Is this a specific technology? A new acronym? A marketing buzzword?
Here’s the spoiler: considering the age of smart technology and in the context of mass spectrometry technology, “SmartMS” refers to a comprehensive set of changes and improvements that make sophisticated mass analysis techniques accessible to a much broader base of scientists and technicians, compared to those currently using LC-MS for biopharma analysis.
Of course, there’s a little more to it than that.
What “SmartMS” means for biopharma analysis
Generally, LC-MS instruments with the power to conduct biopharma analysis require significant expertise to operate. The design of such instruments prioritizes the user’s control over every aspect of analysis, with highly technical interfaces that an expert can optimize for maximum performance.
With this as a starting point, getting to a system more like a home smart device—albeit one that can perform reliable mass analysis on complex biomolecules—took a major rethink, beginning with the moment the user turns the instrument on.
We’re used to turning on a device and using it immediately. However, previous LC-MS systems require extensive setup before analysis can begin—30, 40, 50, or more clicks to specify analytical parameters, usually with open fields and values to enter as well. The BioAccord System sets itself up so that a user can begin an analysis in as few as two clicks; one to specify the mass range, the other to start the analysis.
A modern smart device tells its user when a problem arises. The BioAccord System considers user experience in maintenance more closely than simply diagnosing a problem. For example, its Health System identifies a repair or maintenance need as well as whether the user can perform it, or if the issue requires a technician. Visual instructions for maintenance appear in the software along with the alert. The language in these instructions has been retooled away from specialized mass spectrometry terms and towards vocabulary familiar to liquid chromatography users.
Most analytical instruments arrive “as is” and do not change, unless the manufacturer finds a serious flaw they must correct.
The BioAccord System is more like a smart device in that regular updates will offer enhancements, upgrades, and fixes over the entire life of the instrument.
For example, the static images used in the maintenance instructions for the initial product release will be upgraded to animations.
An integrated experience
Along with having a simple interface and automated operation, we expect smart devices to work together seamlessly. In LC-MS biopharma analysis, this means that chromatography, mass spectrometry, software, chemistries, and service all perform as one. The BioAccord System integrates these elements in order to produce the most reliable and reproducible, compliance-ready data giving scientists greater confidence and better insights to make decisions when developing biotherapeutics.
Bringing usability to high-powered LC-MS analysis in biopharma is the purpose of the BioAccord System. We hope SmartMS will lead to changes similar to those produced by other smart technologies: more widespread use, more access to data, more insights as a result of that access. With the BioAccord System, SmartMS has arrived. We can’t wait to see what you do with it.