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Finding new lipids

2D Scatter plot depicting lipids found by LipidFinder
2D Scatter plot depicting lipids found by LipidFinder.

In the Cardiff Lipidomic Group, led by Valerie O’Donnell, we develop new methods to enable discovery of lipid classes important for health and disease, using mass spectrometry.

We roughly estimate that only 50% of existing lipids in mammalian cells have been structurally characterised to date. Many key discoveries remain to be made regarding this important class of endogenous biomolecules.

To date, using mass spectrometry we have discovered over 100 new lipids generated by human innate immune cells that can signal in inflammation.

3D Scatter plot depicting lipids found by LipidFinder.
3D Scatter plot depicting lipids found by LipidFinder.

Through an European Research Council Advanced Grant (€2.9m 2014-2019), in collaboration with Dr Stuart Allen in the School of Computing and Informatics, we have developed new algorithms and software to allow high resolution mass spectrometry datasets to be rapidly analysed.

Starting with typically 66,000 features in a single cell lipid extract dataset, we need to reduce this to the approximately 7,000-8,000 signals that we know are real lipids.

We are currently using machine learning/heuristics to improve our workflow efficiency, and plan to release our software in 2016.

We are particularly focusing on lipid discovery in innate immunity, cell development, cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Group lead

Professor Valerie O'Donnell

Professor Valerie O'Donnell

Co-Director of Systems Immunity Research Institute

+44 (0)29 2068 7313