Is mass spectrometry used in clinical applications? Labmate online

From pharmaceutical development to the detection of food contamination, mass spectrometry (MS) is used in a wide variety of industries. The analytical tool measures the mass / charge (m / z) ratio of molecules in a sample, with data used to calculate precise weights and concentrations. New developments and advancements continue to expand the relevance of mass spectrometry in a wide range of industries, including clinical applications and laboratory medicine. Below, we explore some of the key uses of the analytics tool.

Illicit drug detection

The very sensitive nature of mass spectrometry makes it the method of choice for measuring laboratory analytes, especially illicit drugs. It is the gold standard in drug analysis, using the mass / charge (m / z) ratio of ions to calculate the precise molecular mass of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, ketamine, methadone and amphetamines.


The wide analytical range and impressive specificity of mass spectrometry make it a useful immunoassay tool. Multiple hormones can be detected and measured during the same run, saving MS time and costs compared to other techniques.

Biochemical genetics

Mass spectrometry is well established in the field of biochemical genetics and is used to detect multiple inherited metabolic disorders in babies, including phenylketonuria (PKU), sickle cell anemia, and congenital hypothyroidism. Tandem Mass Spectrometry (MS / MS) has significantly expanded the screening panel for metabolic disorders, with the incorporation of an acylcarnitine profile allowing analysts to detect fatty acid oxidation disorders (FAOD) and organic acid disorders (OAD) caused by enzymatic dysfunction. In just two minutes, MS / MS can analyze approximately 20 metabolites in a single drop sample of blood, making it a very effective clinical analysis tool.

Olympic doping control

Mass spectrometry has been the cornerstone of Olympic doping analysis for decades. New advances in mass spectrometry have made it even more difficult to evade detection, with a study published by the American Chemical Society the introduction of a new drug detection method called ion mobility mass spectrometry.

“As the world waits for the next Olympics, a new method of detecting doping compounds in urine samples could level the playing field for those trying to keep athletics clean. Now, scientists are reporting an approach using ion mobility mass spectrometry to help regulators detect existing dopants and future “design compounds,” the abstract reads.

Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS)

Combining the analytical advantages of large-scale mass spectrometry (MS) with the precise separation capabilities of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), LC-MS has set a new benchmark for analytical chemistry in clinical applications. . Charis Lam explores how the method is used to deformulate complex samples in “What is in my LC / MS spectra?

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