Skin Metabolomics Platform


The Skin Metabolomics Platform provides researchers with cutting-edge technologies to measure small molecules (metabolites) related to skin conditions in solid (e.g., skin tapes, biopsies) or liquid (e.g., exudate) samples.

We provide mass spectrometry services to researchers in A*SRL and the wider scientific community in applications including:

  • Skin-related metabolite quantification
  • Probe drug quantification (e.g., in vitro skin permeation studies)
  • Biomarker discovery in clinical or in vivo samples
  • 2D mass spectrometry imaging
  • Data acquisition, analysis, interpretation

Our specialist team, led by Dr. James CHAN and Dr. Sze-Han LEE, provides guidance at each experimental stage, from the initial study design and sample processing protocols, instrument optimization to multivariate analysis, pathway identification, and data interpretation.

key instrumentation

Equipment for Sample preparation

We have a repertoire of equipment to support sample preparation:

  • Precellys® Evolution homogenizer with Cryolys® Evolution allows thorough tissue homogenization at low temperatures for protection of heat-sensitive metabolites.
  • Vacuum manifold (96-plate format) facilitates high-throughput extraction of metabolites via solid-phase extraction (SPE).
  • Refrigerated CentriVap® vacuum concentrator allows multiple heat-sensitive samples to be concentrated to improve sensitivity for low-abundance metabolites. Accompanying cold trap collects evaporated solvents and protects the laboratory from hazardous fumes and corrosives.

Vanquish™ Duo UHPLC, coupled to TSQ Quantis™ Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer (LC-MS/MS)

The LC-MS/MS has these features:

  • Dual liquid chromatography (LC) provides two independent flow paths connected to one mass spectrometry unit. This unique system increases throughput and metabolite coverage, accelerates method development and shortens analysis time.
  • Triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) offers targeted quantitation with superb sensitivity even in complex matrices.

Desorption Electrospray Ionization XS, coupled to SYNAPT™ XS High-Resolution Mass Spectrometer (DESI-QTof)

The DESI-QTOF has these features:

  • Desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) allows spatial distribution of metabolites to be obtained directly from a wide range of surfaces without extensive sample preparation.
  • Quadrupole time-of-flight (QTOF) offers untargeted quantitation with high mass resolution to facilitate the identification of unknown compounds.
  • Ion mobility on the SYNAPT XS separates molecules according to their size, shape, and charge (collisional cross-section, CCS), on top of conventional measurement of m/z. This avails an additional dimension of resolution, multiplying peak capacity and selectivity.

SYNAPT™ XS HIGH-RESOLUTION MASS SPECTROMETER, COUPLED TO matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI-QTOF)

The MALDI-QTOF has these features:

  • Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) profiles the spatial distribution of metabolites from a wide range of surfaces.
  • HTX-M5 sprayer provides a fuss-free approach to deposit matrix evenly on 2D biological samples for MALDI analysis. The M5 model improves upon earlier predecessors, allowing 4× faster nozzle spray and newly designed chassis for safe containment and cleaning.
  • DESI and MALDI offer complementary chemical information layers depending on the nature of compounds measured and can be incorporated into a single workflow employing both techniques.

Our services

The Skin Metabolomics Platform offers service and collaborative streams:

  1. Assisted or self-service support on an instrument provided by specialist staff.
  2. Collaborative efforts and intellectual input from our research team to work on research themes in skin metabolomics.


In general, we only permit experienced users to run their samples on the LC-MS. Our staff can provide advice on preparation, choice of standards, and protocols for many applications.


DESI-QTOF and MALDI-QTOF can only be operated by dedicated personnel from our team. However, experienced staff will work with you on preparation and instrument usage.


We provide training for all clients that wish to use our instruments. Training is required before you can book the instruments for independent use.

Data Analysis and Visualisation

We provide guidance on interpreting results and support manuscript preparations i.e., figures, documents, and methods.


If you have used Skin Metabolomics Platform technologies and support, please appropriately acknowledge us. For example: "This work was supported by the A*STAR Skin Research Laboratories, Skin Metabolomics Platform."


After training, you can set up an account and book the following instruments by setting up an account (separate account for each MS):

working with us

Collaborative research, consultancy, fee for service and training options are welcome. 

contact us

For more information on the Skin Metabolomics Platform, please contact Dr James Chan (Head of Operations)