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What’s New and Improved in Mass Spectrometry for Clinical Chemistry Testing?

Thermo Fisher Scientific presents some of their latest technology regarding LC-MS

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Ian Black, MsComm, MSc
Published:Sep 07, 2022
|3 min read

Broadly considered to be the gold standard in clinical chemistry testing, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) offers numerous benefits over other methods. For this reason, Thermo Fisher Scientific is always working to improve the capabilities, user-friendliness, and accessibility of liquid chromatography mass spectrometers. Some of their more recent product lines showcase the latest in LC-MS technology. Here we highlight three of their most prominently featured mass spectrometers.

Automating the LC-MS/MS workflow with the Cascadion SM analyzer

Used to isolate, detect, and quantitate target molecules based on their chemical properties, liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) is an incredibly useful technique, especially in the clinical lab setting. The technology also offers some benefits over other methods like immunoassays, namely better accuracy, precision, and specificity. A major downside of conventional LC-MS/MS methods, however, is that they often involve the development, validation, and implementation of laboratory developed tests (LDTs). This process can be very time- and labor-intensive with a high amount of inter-laboratory variability. For this reason, introducing more automation to the LC-MS/MS workflow can save researchers a lot of time and effort. 

Thermo Fisher has addressed the challenge of LC-MS/MS automation with the Cascadion SM analyzer. The Cascadion is fully automated and designed for ease of use to drive clinical testing forward. It features automated sample preparation, dedicated assays, and LIS connectivity. Additionally, no specialized knowledge is required to operate the machine. Finally, the analyzer also monitors and manages samples to ensure complete traceability. Unsatisfied with just producing an automated LC-MS/MS system, however, Thermo Fisher has taken things to the next level: announcing a new interface with the Inspeco S.A. FlexLab Total Laboratory Automation (TLA) system. This interface enables primary tubes on the Inpeco LAS to be transported to the Cascadion for automated loading. This marks the first integration of an automated liquid chromatography mass spectrometer to a TLA track. 

Detect more substances at lower concentrations with the Tox Explorer Collection

The need to analyze hundreds of drugs of abuse in biological samples is a constant challenge for most toxicology labs. This challenge is further compounded by the constant emergence of new designer and illicit drugs. Being able to rapidly screen for drugs, confirm the compounds, access the retrospective analytical data, and do all of this while minimizing the cost per sample is a monumental task. To address these challenges, the Tox Explorer Collection from Thermo Fisher Scientific allows for reliable screening and quantitation of over 1,800 drugs of abuse.

A workflow-based approach that utilizes the Thermo Scientific™ Orbitrap™ 120 mass spectrometer, the Tox Explorer Collection consists of a proven HPLC-MS method as well as a high-resolution accurate-mass (HRAM) MS/MS spectral library, stored in the Thermo Scientific™ mzVault™. Specifically, the method implemented in this collection uses a Vanquish Flex UHPLC system connected to an Orbitrap Exploris 120 mass spectrometer. For toxicology laboratories tasked with the challenge of analyzing hundreds of samples containing drugs of abuse analytes in complex matrices, the Tox Explorer Collection can offer a robust, reliable, sensitive, and easy-to-use workflow. 

Fully-automated dried spot sampling with the Transcend™ DSX-1 UHPLC system from Thermo Scientific™

The demand for compliant sample handling and specimen authentication in dried spot analysis workflows is common in most clinical research laboratories. Especially prevalent in toxicology and anti-doping laboratories, traditional workflows for dried spot analysis are very labor intensive. In an effort to redefine these traditional methods, Thermo Scientific™ has introduced the Transcend™ DSX-1 Autosampler. The Transcend™ DSX-1 Autosampler enables easy-to-use automation with efficient online extraction for high-throughput LC-MS/MS, while minimizing ambiguity and meeting sample compliance requirements.

This autosampler minimizes user intervention by using automation to get dried samples off cards. Additionally, the Transcend™ DSX-1 supports an onboard camera that assists with chain of custody, sample traceability, and accurate spot recognition, all of which ensure that sample information can be tracked and stored in case retrospective monitoring is needed. The system also makes use of TurboFlow technology for online sample cleanup and enrichment. The technology, which uses two-dimensional chromatography with high velocity flow, will wash large molecules to waste. This is ideal for dried spot analysis. Finally, users are also able to address productivity challenges while increasing uptime and accuracy by coupling LC-MS/MS platforms.

These products help push the boundaries of clinical research and analysis and will hopefully bring more effective and efficient health care to our society. As we continue to expand LC-MS technology, hopefully more labs will be able to take advantage of this incredibly powerful methodology.