March 5, 2019
Mass spectrometry (MS) has many advantages as a quantitative detection technology for applications within drug discovery. However, current methods of liquid sample introduction to a detector are slow and limit the use of mass spectrometry for kinetic and high-throughput applications. We present the development of an acoustic mist ionization (AMI) interface capable of contactless nanoliter-scale “infusion” of up to three individual samples per second into the mass detector. Installing simple plate handling automation allowed us to reach a throughput of 100 000 samples per day on a single mass spectrometer. We applied AMI-MS to identify inhibitors of a human histone deacetylase from AstraZeneca’s collection of 2 million small molecules and measured their half-maximal inhibitory concentration. The speed, sensitivity, simplicity, robustness, and consumption of nanoliter volumes of sample suggest that this technology will have a major impact across many areas of basic and applied research.