By Manuel Bauer
So you’ve made the investment in liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) in your clinical/diagnostics laboratory and now you need to get it up and running…adding value to the lab and generating a return. The job will certainly include moving from manual to automated sample preparation methods. This can seem an overwhelming task, especially when it involves solid phase extraction (SPE). Sean Orlowicz, Manager, PhenoLogix, offers guidance on a collaborative approach for application support and sample preparation method development.
Collaboration for automated liquid handling
PhenoLogix is an analytical applications lab within Phenomenex offering analytical support including method development, optimization and transfer of developed methods. As part of Phenomenex, their scientists are specialists in chromatography, its chemistries and the science of separation. In partnership with Tecan, industry experts in automated fluid handling, they deliver a gold standard that includes all pieces of the LC-MS sample preparation solution.
Orlowicz presents a customized sequence from identification of the sample prep problem, to development of the solution and implementation into the clients’ laboratory. Sean comments on the importance of robustness in method development and emerging trends in LC-MS based clinical testing. The key is collaboration, says Orlowicz, speaking from the Mass Spectrometry: Applications to the Clinical Lab Conference (MSACL).
“We benefit our clients through a collaboration. We have resources that we can dedicate towards the client that often they don’t have…time, resources, applications expertise. The term I use a lot of times is we lend our bench strength to our clients.”
Key factors for developing an LC-MS automation method
When developing an automated LC-MS method, the clinical lab should take into account two things: robustness and varying sample matrices. Clinical labs run a high volume of difficult, biological samples and day-to-day reproducibility is key. The ultimate goal for method development is a rapid, sensitive, selective and most importantly - robust method. Choosing the optimal sample preparation method must also keep in mind robustness. Orlowicz recommends keeping it simple while still achieving goals and monitoring for continuous feedback.
Choosing the optimal sample extraction method
Solid phase extraction is known for targeting selectivity and offering versatility for larger sample volumes. While SPE is an effective technique for cleaning up and concentrating samples prior to LC-MS analysis, in its manual form it is labor intensive, can introduce errors and expose lab workers to infectious biofluids. SPE offers great benefits for the LC-MS, however, and plays to enhancing the already sensitive technique through its concentrating effect. The Tecan Freedom EVO® liquid handling system automates SPE using Phenomenex Strata and Strata-X sorbents.
Emerging trends in LC-MS based clinical testing
Emerging trends in LC-MS based clinical testing include high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS). Orlowicz observes that HRMS is showing promise in the future due to the increased selectivity in complex biological samples, prevalent in the clinical diagnostics lab. He goes on to explain the need to measure larger molecules and integrate proteomics and target biomarkers.
This video is a must-watch for anyone who has recently added LC-MS and automated sample handling to their laboratory or is considering the addition including medical lab, clinical lab or diagnostic lab directors, lab managers, scientists, purchasers, executives and regulatory personnel.
Find out how to put this knowledge to work in your laboratory. Watch the video now.
About the author
Dr Manuel Bauer
Dr. Manuel Bauer joined Tecan Switzerland in 2013 and is responsible as Senior Market & Product Manager for Tecan's automated MS sample preparation offering and the Tecan D300e digital dispenser. He studied Biology at the University of Würzburg and Free University of Berlin. During his PhD at the ETH Zürich he focused on systems biology, and has also applied various MS-based proteomics techniques during his post doc at the Biozentrum Basel.