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The Bioprofiling platform is operational!

December 17, 2018 |
The Bioprofiling platform is now making its cutting-edge equipment available to all biotechnology actors in the region… and beyond. A great boost for research projects and collaborations!

The Bioprofiling platform is dedicated to the identification and quantification of biological markers. It has been operational since in October, and its ambition is to serve all organisations in the biotech sector: universities, research centres, hospitals, and businesses. ‘Our spectrometers are very helpful for research, but they are expensive(1)’, explains Professor Ruddy Wattiez, the platform's director. ‘They are now used by researchers from UMONS, ULB, and other Belgian universities. We are also getting involved in European research projects, offer our services, and have partnered up with private companies for specific research projects.’

A close relationship with IBMM
That being said, the Bioprofiling platform has an especially close relationship with the Biopark, in particular with the Institute of Molecular Biology and Medicine (IBMM). ‘As part of the UMONS / ULB – Wallonia Biomed ERDF portfolio, IBMM will send a technician and a post-doctoral researcher to our premises, who will work specifically on analyses. Until the platform's inauguration(2), a computer server will serve as a bridge between the two institutions, in order to browse through the data and provide backups.

Two technological facilities

The Bioprofiling platform is built on two complementary technological facilities:
• the ‘Meta-Vision’ facility can determine the profile of small molecules, i.e. the metabolome(3). ‘Using the nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, we can identify the characteristic signature of a small molecule and determine how abundant it is and under what conditions’, explains Professor Wattiez. ‘And we can do this without altering the sample.’
• the ‘MS-Quanta’ facility is dedicated to macromolecules such as proteins, which are the target of choice of most drugs. ‘Our mass spectrometer can identify them, and quantify them in relative or absolute terms.

The benefits of being present on two sites
Meta-Vision is located in Mons, while the spectrometers used by MS-Quanta are split between UMONS and ULiège. This has a number of benefits, in terms of both technology and methodology. ‘What's more, both sites have equiment and approaches that are different but complementary. This enables them to validate and confirm results, to avoid the bias inherent in using a single piece of equipment, and even to conduct double-blind studies. All this reinforces the scientific value of our results.

(1) The platform owes its creation to the financial support of the European Union and Wallonia, as part of the ERDF-ESF programme for 2014-2020. The project has received 3.4 million euros.
(2) The MS-Quanta will be officially inaugurated on February 14, 2019, at 2 p.m., simultaneously at UMONS (Campus "Plaine de Nimy", La Fontaine auditorium), and at ULiège. Register here.
(3) The metabolome is the set of all small molecules present in a cell that play a key role in the cell's biochemical pathways.
Céline Leblanc