LC-MS stands for liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The LC-mass spectrometer is one of the most popular methods for separating and analyzing individual components of a specific substance. The liquid chromatography unit separates components within a substance, while mass spectrometry utilizes spectral data to identify these components.
The mass spectrometry unit is inherently more sensitive and specific than other chromatographic detectors. Hence, it was always desirable to couple MS detectors with chromatography units. But this extension was limited due to the incompatibility of MS detectors with continuous liquid streams. However, these circumstances changed with the advent of the electrospray ion source. Today LC-MS analysis is widely used to detect individual components in biological substances. The current article highlights several applications of LC-MS methods. However, researchers must adequately focus on LC-MS method development and validation.
Applications of LC-MS assays
From soil and air to drinking water, wastewater and sludge, LC-MS testing can be used to assess numerous environmental samples. Besides, LC-MS assays have several applications in each of the above environmental models. They can detect herbicides such as phenoxyalkanoic acids and chlorophenols.
Moreover, the LC-MS method has similar applications in the food industry. They can detect food contaminants at micro levels. These contaminants include animal drugs in meat products and pesticides in crops. LC-MS testing can also check natural toxins such as mercury in fish, which must be monitored regularly.
LC-MS also has vital applications in the cosmetic industry. LC-MS analysis can detect and monitor chemical contaminants including fillers in personal care and cosmetics to assess and ensure their quality.
Drug testing is another common application of LC-MS testing. Drug testing agencies couple HPLC units with mass spectrometer detectors and identify illicit drugs in biological samples. This type of testing is particularly useful in sporting scenarios to detect doping agents in urine and blood samples. LC-MS analysis becomes crucial in providing reliable and accurate evidence for disqualification.
LC-MS testing is primarily used in the pharmaceutical and drug development industry. Drugs with unnecessary impurities and components are harmful to the patient population. Fortunately, LC-MS assays are highly sensitive and can detect impurities at trace levels to ensure drug products are free from contaminants. Besides, LC-MS assays specialize in antibody-drug conjugates. These drugs are made by attaching a pharmaceutical drug to an antibody.
LC-MS assays are used widely in screening potential genetic disorders. Detection of genetic disorders in newborns provides crucial data for early therapeutic interventions. A positive predictive value is relatively poor in infants. Hence, LC-MS assays form a second-tier confirmatory test. They can reanalyze the samples and confirm the presence of genetic disorders.
Immunoassays used in therapeutic drug monitoring and toxicology studies are subjected to high cross-reactivity among metabolites. Besides, these commercial immunoassays have higher costs. These challenges have spurred the growth of LC-MS assays in therapeutic drug monitoring and toxicology. Moreover, the LC-MS method has multiplexing capacities. Hence, they simplify experimental workflows and provide additional drug data.
In conclusion, LC-MS analysis has numerous applications and can detect almost all individual components of a given substance.