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News & Events

Goodbye to the undergrads

A big thank-you to Sabrina, Sean, Rochelle, and Nick for a great summer in the Brtiz-McKibbin group. We really enjoyed mentoring you this summer and can't wait to hear all about your future endeavours. We hope you truly enjoyed your summer with us, we sure did!!!

Looking forward to September when Nick will be re-joining us as a CHEM 3RP3 student along with our other undergraduate thesis students. Best of luck to all our out-going and in-coming undergrads during your Fall semester.

Check out our lastest collaboration

We are so happy to promote our latest collaboration with McMaster's Health Science Department. Congratulations Nadine on getting your DIGEST (Diet & Gene Interaction Study) work published, great work. Take a look at her paper below, some really interesting research on being able to metabolically differentiate patient diets. This could revolutionize the use to food frequency questionaires.

Metabolic Trajectories Following Contrasting Prudent and Western Diets from Food Provisions: Robust Biomarkers of Short-Term Changes in Habitual Diet

Listen to Dr. Britz in the latest CSMLS podcast

We always love getting the opportunity to try new things. Check out what Dr. Britz had to say about the ongoing opioid crisis in North America.

The opioid epidemic is a complex and multi-layered problem. In the episode Dr. Britz contributed to, they explore how various factors are contributing to this crisis. They also delve into how one novel drug testing methodology might just be one piece of the puzzle to combat the epidemic.

Episode 28 – A Piece of the Puzzle

Welcome Gustavo

A very warm welcome to Gustavo from Brazil who is here to shadow us for a few weeks before translating CE-MS to his research group. We can't wait to share all our wisdom and can't wait to learn from you as well! As a lab group we headed to an escape room this afternoon. Of course we escaped, nobody can keep the Britz-McKibbin group locked up!!!

PhD: Nadine

A very big congratulations to Nadine who successfully defended her PhD (Targeted and Non-Targeted Metabolite Analysis for Disease Risk Assessment) today. Welcome to the PhD club! We can't wait to hear all about your future endeavors, we know you'll make a significant impact no matter where you end up. We hope you enjoyed your sip out of the chalice at the Phoenix this afternoon.

Great Seminar Nadine

It is always a pleasure to hear all about a members research and the contributions they have made in their field of study. Great seminar today Nadine, best of luck at your defense on Thursday. Come on out if your free - Thursday August 1st at 9:30am in the Grad Studies Office.

More research coming out

They say in academia summer is the time you are most productive and that is definitely the case this summer in the Britz group with another publication coming out today. Congratulations to Michelle (first author) and Alice (second author), both from our group, on your publication in Metabolites. Take a look at their findings on how metabolomics was used to study step reduction in older adults and their potential increased risk of developing sarcopenia.

Metabolic Perturbations from Step Reduction in Older Persons at Risk for Sarcopenia: Plasma Biomarkers of Abrupt Changes in Physical Activity

In the news...

Thanks McMaster University for featuring Mai's recent research into finding a possible urine biomarker for the accurate diagnosis of IBD (irritable bowel syndrome). Considering the prevalence of IBD, we hope this is only the beginning of it's diagnostic testing. Take a looks at the article published on McMaster's website.

Scientists find simple urine test could offer a non-invasive approach for diagnosis of IBS patients

Metabolomics Publication

Take a look at Mai's recent publication in Metabolomics where elevated urinary levels of collagen degradation and epithelial cell turnover products were discovered in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients. Hopefully this novel discovery can help with the accurate diagnosis of IBS pateints which is currently the most commonly diagnosed functional gastrointestinal disorder in developed countries.

Metabolomics reveals elevated urinary excretion of collagen degradation and epithelial cell turnover products in irritable bowel syndrome patients

Metabolomics 2019

We had a great time attending Metabolomics 2019 in the Netherlands. Hopefully you had the chance to visit Sandi and Dr. Britz's posters during the conference to hear about Sandi's research on reliable fatty acid biomarkers of maternal dietary fat intake and the group's research (presented by Dr. Britz) in collaboration with the DIGEST study. It was also great catching up with former members of the Britz-McKibbin group: Adriana and Mai.

Another successful PhD defence!!!

A massive congratulations to Michelle Saoi on her successful PhD defence this morning. Although we are sad to see you go we couldn't be happier on your success. Best of luck in New York during your Post Doc!!

Wonderful seminar Michelle!

What a great afternoon in the Britz-McKibbin lab getting to support Michelle Saoi at her departmental seminar. We love being able to support one another and hear about the research we have all been up to. Michelle has provided very meaningful advancements in tissue metabolomics using capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry. From research on the effects of sarcopenia in older adults to observing the metabolomic effects of ingesting bicarbonate during strenuous exercise, Michelle is definitely on the cutting edge of a lot of interesting research. Come on out this Tuesday June 18th to Michelle's PhD defence at 9am if you want to hear more.

Convocation: Spring 2019

A big congratulations to Mai on her convocation after successfully defending her PhD last winter. Also a congratulations to our undergraduate students, Zach, Sabrina, Tiffany, Holly, Richel, Lucas, and Rebecca on graduating from the Bachelor of Science program here at McMaster. From Mai to the undergrads, we know each one of you are going to go on to do wonderful things and we can't wait to hear all about it. 

We really enjoyed our time at CSC

Great presentations Stellena and Ritchie at CSC last week. Also great poster Erick! Looking forward to the productive summer ahead continuing our research.

Great Poster Sabrina

We had a great time at the 2nd annual Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research Conference on Friday and Saturday. Sabrina presented a great poster on using Multisegment Injection-Capillary Electrophoresis-Mass Spectrometry, a method developed in the Britz Group, for detecting cannabis metabolites in urine.

Congratulations Sandi on your Program Excellence Award

Help us congratulate Sandi on her Program Excellence Award! The Britz Group couldn't be prouder to see your success and be apart of your research opportunities.

We are excited to be attending the 102nd CCCE Conference in June

Check our Ritchie's, Erick's and Stellena's posters at the event being held in Quebec City from June 3rd to June 7th 2019.

Welcome to our new undergraduate students

A warm welcome to Sean, Rochelle and Nicolas our new undergraduate students. We are looking forward to a productive summer and can't wait to see the progress you all make on your projects.

Very excited to present our JoVE publication

We are so excited to share our JoVE article and video. Thanks for all the hard work Meera, Zach, Sabrina and Clara! Take a minute and check it out for yourself (link below).

High-throughput and Comprehensive Drug Surveillance Using Multisegment Injection-capillary Electrophoresis Mass Spectrometry


Undergraduate Thesis Day

A big congratulations to all of our undergraduate thesis students, Rebecca, Richel, Holly, Tiffany and Lucas, on their presentations today. We wish you nothing but the best for the future and have enjoyed participating in your research this past semester. 

Congratulations Sabrina

Congrats Sabrina on your successful thesis presentation today. We can't wait to continue our cannabis assay research and development this summer. 

Attend the Canadian Metabolomics Conference in Canmore Alberta

The Second Annual Canadian Metabolomics Conference will be held from May 1st to 2nd in Canmore, Alberta. The conference will highlight work by leading researchers, including new technologies and approaches for metabolomics research, and applications in various fields. The conference will feature networking opportunities and a poster session designed for trainees to present their work. The Alberta Epigenetics Network will be offering trainee travel awards. Our goal is to highlight the exceptional metabolomics science that is being done in Canada and abroad, and foster Canada’s leadership role in the global research community.

Congrats Alicia on your journal cover page publication

We are always excited when we can make it on the cover! A big congratulations to Alicia for her work on metabolic signatures of Cystic Fibrosis for Newborn Screening that is featured as the cover article in the Journal of Proteome Research.

Metabolic Signatures of Cystic Fibrosis Identified in Dried Blood Spots For Newborn Screening Without Carrier Identification

Congratulations Ritchie on receiving the 2019 Impact Award

The Impact Award is given to students in Chemistry who have published a high impact article or communication. Check out the article below. Also shout-out to Sandi for her contributions as well.

Robust Method for High-Throughput Screening of Fatty Acids by Multisegment Injection-Nonaqueous Capillary Electrophoresis-Mass Spectrometry with Stringent Quality Control

Thanks McMaster for featuring our Cystic Fibrosis work

Take a look at the exciting research going on in the Britz-McKibbin lab.

Congrats to Mai for a successful PhD Defense

Congrats to Mai for a successful PhD defense yesterday morning!



Designing a New Drug Test - CJMLS

Read our recent cover story/interview, "Designing a New Drug Test" by Jane Langille in the Fall 2018 edition of the Canadian Journal for Medical Laboratory Sciences.


Read here:

Researchers announce new drug screening method

Canadian researchers have developed a new drug screening technique that could enable the rapid and accurate identification of fentanyl, along with many other illicit drugs which have been difficult to detect by urinalysis. 

The method developed at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., would also expedite results by enabling technicians to run many more tests simultaneously, eliminating the two-stage process currently used in testing, with improved accuracy. 

The new method, reported in the current edition of the journal Analytical Chemistry, would address one of the primary causes of the opioid epidemic by better enabling public health and law enforcement agencies to monitor the constant flow of new, synthetic drugs entering the illegal market. 

Current drug testing methods rely on immunoassays. An immunoassay is a biochemical test that measures the presence or concentration of a macromolecule or a small molecule in a solution through the use of an antibody or an antigen. Scientists say immunoassays are ineffective in testing many new, synthetic drugs, including synthetic opioids, tranquilizers, stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs. 

As a result, conventional testing methods produce a high number of false positives and false negatives, which requires additional tests to confirm findings. 

“Drug testing is always behind the times since screening relies on antibody reagents that target only known drugs and they are prone to error, which contributes to higher health care costs and delays to clinical decision making,” says Phillip Britz-McKibbin, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster and lead author of the study.

“Current technologies are not specific, accurate nor comprehensive enough, which impairs a physician’s ability to properly care for patients, such as monitoring for drug compliance, potential substitution or polydrug usage,” he says. Only accurate urine tests can show whether or not the patient is following a doctor’s prescription or taking other harmful substances that can hamper treatment efficacy and patient safety, Britz-McKibbin adds.

Researchers plan to further validate the new method by comparing it to conventional screening tests for a wide range of drugs of abuse on a group of hospital inpatients.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA granted 510(k) clearance to the Sefria fentanyl urine enzyme immunoassay – the first immunoassay of its kind to receive clearance. The FDA action makes it available for use by certified reference laboratories, hospitals, physician offices and other healthcare settings that perform testing. Previously, fentanyl immunoassay tests were only available for forensic testing.

The Sefria technology was developed and is being marketed by Pomona, Calif.-based Immunalysis Corp., a division of Alere Inc. (NYSE: ALR).

The availability of an FDA-cleared fentanyl immunoassay enables more reference and hospital laboratories to conduct precise qualitative screening, which is a key strategy in stemming the alarming increase in misuse and abuse of fentanyl,” says Kathy Miller, vice president of sales and marketing at Immunalysis Corp. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, death rates from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased by 72.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, partly due to their low cost and high potency, which can be up to 50 times greater than heroin and 100 times greater than morphine. 

Fentanyl-related drug overdoses are often caused by unintentional ingestion when it is combined with street market heroin or cocaine, according to scientists, making it much more dangerous.