New instrument to the Uppsala MSI facility: "Significant improvement of speed and spatial resolution"


Just a minute... Per Andrén, Professor of Mass Spectrometry Imaging and head of Uppsala University's MSI facility that in December consolidates its position among the world’s foremost when installing a new instrument that will add significantly increased capacity.

Per Andrén, Professor
Per Andrén, Professor of Mass Spectrometry Imaging 

What does Mass Spectrometric Imaging (MSI) add to biomedical research?
“With ultra-high mass resolution, we can image and analyse different types of molecules directly in sections of biological tissue. This is a relatively young technology, launched in the USA in the late 90s, and that, despite great progress, still holds unexplored potential. In September, our team published an overview of the field’s current position within pharmacodynamics, stating that we, with today’s advanced tools, can simultaneously image, for example, drugs and their metabolites and effects. Thus, contributing to further efficiency in drug development and knowledge in neuro- and cancer research.”

What is the status of Uppsala's MSI facility in international comparison?
“The fact that I was able to start building our machinery back in 2003 gave us an important head start, and today the Faculty of Pharmacy's MSI facility is among the world's foremost. With the support of several leading funders, we provide the absolute latest technology, and in December 2022 we will – thanks to significant grants from the Swedish Research Council – install a new instrument that will take us another big step forward.”

How will this reinforcement contribute to your service?
“This instrument can image tissue with significantly higher spatial resolution and speed. It will also enable us to separate isomers with so-called ion mobility. This will increase both our capacity and the amount of information we can extract from individual tissue samples, and as soon as the technology is installed, we expect to run the instrument more or less around the clock.”

Per Andrén, Faculty of Pharmacy
Per Andrén, Faculty of Pharmacy

Who are your primary clients and collaborators?
We primarily address research groups at Swedish - and to some extent foreign - universities, but also provide services to pharmaceutical companies. In 2021, we joined SciLifeLab and the newly formed Spatial Biology platform, in which we collaborate with other spatial omics techniques in Stockholm. Together, we can generate more knowledge about individual cells in a tissue section than previously possible, and we can already see how the platform is increasing our ability to locate the projects where our work will contribute to optimised outcome in the form of excellent research.”

When will we see the first scientific results from the platform?
“We are already working on several articles that we will submit for review at leading journals. The fact that we have established our organisation both quick and well gives us further reason to look positively at the future.”

And what is in focus of your own research?
“In November, I received yet another four-year grant from the Swedish Research Council, which enables a continuation of our award-winning study on L-Dopa-induced dyskinesias in Parkinson's disease. Using MSI technique, we have identified abnormally elevated levels of L-Dopa and its metabolites in dyskinetic brains compared to those who do not get these symptoms. With new MSI methods, we aim to contribute to increased neurochemical knowledge, which in turn can play an important role in understanding and developing treatments for these symptoms.”


  • Enables analysis and visualisation of endogenous metabolites, neurotransmitters, lipids, peptides, proteins and drugs and their metabolites in thin tissue sections with high molecular specificity and spatial resolution.
  • Molecular images are created by ionizing molecules and collecting mass spectra from each position (pixel) on a tissue surface at a selected lateral resolution. Thousands of ions can be detected in each pixel.
  • Computational software is used to select an individual ion, and the intensity of the ion is extracted from each pixel’s mass spectrum. These intensities are then combined into a heat map image showing the relative distribution of the ion throughout the sample’s surface.
  • The image can be correlated with a histological image from the same tissue or with images produced with other types of imaging methods from the same or nearby sections of tissue.



Per AndrénPer Andrén, Professor of Mass Spectrometry Imaging 
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

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Last modified: 2022-11-08