Fundamental Mass Spectrometry and Eicosanoids Research
Mass spectrometry is an instrument based technique in which the interaction of ions in a vacuum are studied with magnetic and/or electrical fields. The behavior and motion of ions is quite predictable based upon the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) of the ions and this forms the basis of the mass spectrometric experiment. The first studies in this area were carried out by J.J. Thompson in England close to the turn of the century which lead to his discovery of isotopes of elements. Later experiments by Aston, Dempster as well as many others lead to the development of the fundamental theory of modern instrumentation for mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry is an exceedingly versatile technique which can provide fundamental information of great value in many disciplines and has been applied directly to virtually all areas of science including biology, chemistry, and physics. Some of the first experiments involving mass spectrometry applied to biology, involved using the quantitative nature of the information which can be obtained. In these studies, Rittenberg used stable isotopes as tracers in order to study the biochemistry of amino acids (1). Fred McLafferty in the mid 1950s illustrated the usefulness of fragmentation of organic ions and was able to deduce the structures of biological substances based upon mass spectrometry (2). These concepts were quickly applied to extremely complex molecules as illustrated by the work of Klaus Biemann in the late 1950s and early 1960s in which he elegantly demonstrated the ability of mass spectrometry to provide data necessary for the structure elucidation of complex natural products (3).
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