From Left to Right: MSc student Phindile Mashiane, Bruno Steiner, MSc Student Gudani Tshivhase, Grant Bauer, MSc Student Modibo Malefo and Senior Scientist Biljana Marjanovic-Painter

The Advion expression CMS (Compact Mass Spectrometer) together with Plate Express TLC Plate Reader was acquired by the RadioChemistry Department of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) from Bruno Steiner and Grant Bauer.

This combination of the Mass Spectrometer and TLC Plate Reader is primarily used for analyses of intermediate steps of organic synthesis reactions as well as a tracking tool.

The complete system, including a Peak Nitrogen Generator, is utilised for analyses of sugar derivates, chalcones, oxepine rings, chromones and isofl avonoids as synthetic intermediate products in synthesis of asphalatin and obliquumol. Asphalatin and Obliquumol are compounds showing promising biological activities against diabetes mellitus and candida albicans and are isolated from South African terrestrial plants. In Necsa’s projects, the synthesised Asphalatin and Obliquumol are subsequently labelled with radioactive 14C and analysed on β-radio detector. The system provides identifi cation of different compounds from plants which are extracted by methanol, n-Hexane, ethyl acetate and dichloromethane.

The TLC plate reader has the ability to analyse separated components straight from the plate thus, sample preparation is drastically shortened by the elimination of scraping, dissolution of wanted bands prior to analyses and fi ltering. The expression CMS is insensitive to the silicates of the TLC plate and can be used as a detector for HPLC, IC, Flow Injection and monitoring of organic synthesis. The complete system can also analyse peptides, labelled later with radionuclides and used as imaging /diagnostic agents in cancer research. Other than providing accurate analyses as part of research, the system allows for students to gain ‘hands on’ exposure on this advanced instrumentation which facilitates, with ease, the interpretation of results to attain breakthrough research whilst intensifying the knowledge of the students to further their studies.