Matrix-associated laser-based desorption and ionization imaging, in short MALDI Imaging, combines two major fields of bioanalytical methods: molecule analysis determined by means of mass spectra according to time-of-flight masses (m/z), and the macroscopic anatomy of the tissue compartments. Regions of interest (ROI) of human cancer tissue slides defined by pathologists are translated into mass spectra pattern and can be used for subsequent bio-statistical analyses of protein, peptide or lipid composition and quantification. In addition to the knowledge gained from differing mass spectra in e.g. tumor versus normal tissue areas, morphologically indistinguishable tumors can be subdivided and analyzed for molecule-dependent heterogeneity by segmentation of mass intensities at a very high resolution (down to 5x5 micrometer).
In addition to the significance of conventional MALDI analysis for routine diagnostics and to conducting medical research projects using experimental setups, the MALDI Imaging Unit is researching on bioinformatic workflows and deep learning pipelines to utilize the big data information e.g. for automation purposes.