Uppsala's MSI environment continues to expand


Just a minute… Per Andrén, Professor of Medical Mass Spectrometry, that with the installation of a new FTICR instrument heads of one of the world's leading facilities for Mass Spectrometry Imaging.

Per Andrén, Professor of Medical Mass Spectrometry
Per Andrén, Professor of Medical Mass Spectrometry

What's going on at Lab Per Andrén?
“We have just installed a new mass spectrometer of the model solariX MALDI FTICR 7T, an extremely powerful instrument for Mass Spectrometry Imaging (MSI). It generates ultrahigh mass resolution, a necessary property in order to image the complex environment that a biological tissue section constitutes. Together with the first FTICR instrument that we acquired in 2018 and our other instruments, we now have one of the world's leading laboratories in our field.”


What services do you provide?
“With MSI technology, we can determine the distribution of molecules - especially metabolites, lipids, peptides, small proteins and drugs - in thin sections of biological tissue, for example in different organs. We collaborate with preclinical and clinical researchers, but also perform services to the pharmaceutical industry in the development of new drugs. The fact that our team also has the interdisciplinary competence to design, execute, compile and evaluate entire projects makes us an internationally attractive resource. Currently, there is a queue to our facility, but with this new instrument we increase our capacity significantly.”

What is required to engage you?
“An interesting project, granted funding and potential for high impact publications. We always start with a planning meeting and examine whether the substance or drug in question is compatible with our technology. After that we test ionization on tissue accompanied by a pilot project, and if everything looks good, we move to full scale. We are currently involved in about forty studies, mainly in Sweden, but we also have several international clients.”

Why did you choose Uppsala for your facility?
“After my postdoc at MSI pioneer Richard Caprioli's laboratory in Houston, USA, I divided my time between GE Healthcare and Uppsala University until 2010. In 2003, I received funding to build an MSI facility at BMC. Over the years, the Swedish Research Council, SSF, the Wallenberg Foundation and several other organisations have funded us, and today we have the mechanical equipment to offer the latest technology.”

What are your plans for the near future?
“We continuously develop methods for visualizing molecules that are difficult to image. In collaboration with Luke Odell, we recently presented in Nature Method's new chemical tools to be able to simultaneously image a large number of neurotransmitters in different regions of the brain. The method provides a better overall picture of how the brain's chemical messengers interact in basic neurological processes and in disease states. We also have several collaborations that we strongly believe in, for example with Per Svenningsson, neurologist at KI, with ENABLE - the EU's investment in the development of new antibiotics - and of course with researchers at our own faculty. In addition, we conduct our own research focusing on Parkinson's disease and L-Dopa-induced dyskinesias, as well as new MSI methods for drugs and their effects.”

Facts Mass Spectrometry Imaging (MSI)

  • Enables analysis and visualisation of endogenous metabolites, neurotransmitters, lipids, peptides and small proteins as well as drugs and their metabolites, in thin biological tissue sections with high molecular specificity.
  • Molecular images are created by ionizing molecules and collecting mass spectra from each position (pixels) on a tissue surface at a selected lateral resolution. Thousands of ions can be detected in each pixel.
  • The distribution of individual molecules on the surface of the tissue is then extracted and a molecule-specific image is created. The image can be correlated with the original histological image or images produced with other types of imaging methods from the same or nearby tissue sections.

More information


Per Andrén, Professor of Medical Mass Spectrometry
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences
per.andren@farmbio.uu.se, 070-1679334

Anna Nilsson
Lab manager

Reza Shariatgorji
Lab manager

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