Mass spectrometry (MS) was discovered in the early 1900s, but its application was limited to clinical chemistry. In the 1980s, chemical compounds were found that protected large biological compounds (mostly proteins) and allowed them to withstand the high intensity of lasers. Enter matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and the ability to detect a multitude of complex protein mixtures.
Outside of MALDI-TOF MS, few technologies have ever made as great an impact on the clinical laboratory, particularly the microbiology laboratory. MALDI-TOF MS has revolutionized the ability to identify organisms in a rapid, cost-effective manner and serves to replace other methods of identification. This course will briefly describe the basic principles of MALDI-TOF MS through the pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical phases and update the laboratorian to current applications of this technique.