Top Five Misconceptions about Mass Spectrometry

Nov 15, 2016 | Blogs, Technology | 0 comments

Do you work in a lab handling precious samples yet, hesitant to make the move to mass spectrometry? Many laboratories just like yours continue to conduct sample analysis using ELISA assays, PCR scans, and amino acid tests because of their effectiveness. These processes work, so why change? Well, these type of analytical experiments can report false positive and negative results. You have trained your staff, know the process, and fingers crossed, not too many user errors have compromised analysis.

However, just because traditional assays can perform basic analysis doesn’t mean they are letting your lab live up to its full potential. Concerns about workflow disruption, complicated equipment, costs, and training are quite common. Therefore, we felt it prudent to put your worries to rest with these five common mass spec misconceptions. 

1. Mass Spec is Too Complicated
Fear and excitement can be high when your staff has never before used mass spec instruments. However, training and implementation can happen with little disruption to your lab’s daily workflow. Check out the latest online training courses which are designed for new to mass spec and experienced users >

Customers who have made the transition from traditional assays to mass spectrometry, frequently comment on the time savings they have made by switching to LC-MS/MS. Therefore, freeing up their staff for other pertinent projects.

2. Mass Specs Are Too Big
More and more, high throughput mass specs are designed to maximize lab space without compromising data integrity. Take the X500R for example. This is the most compact, high-throughput mass spec on the market. Small enough to fit on a desktop it is also straightforward and easy to use.

In Stephanie’s story, you can learn what happens when a food testing lab discovers a new pesticide metabolite found in corn is making kids sick. Requests for re-testing and new analysis come in but traditional methods are unable to manage the workflow. The X500R is the right solution because of its high-resolution capabilities, compactness, and ability to manage routine and not so routine samples without taking up so much space.

3. Too Expensive
You can do more testing with mass spec technology and improve efficiencies even more by condensing multiple tests into one. Now is the time to expand your lab’s capabilities as you investigate a huge range omics, lipidomics, pharma, food, environmental, and forensics analytical methods.

Take food testing, for example. Traditional assays are known for producing false negatives and positives due to limited sensitivity and selectivity forcing re-tests. When testing for allergens, Mass Spectrometry is capable of multi-allergen screening whereas ELISA requires separate test kits.

4. Testing Takes Too Long
As we mentioned before, assays require separate kits for multiple allergens. Using mass spec, however, you can screen for multiple allergens in a single run. You can read more about this process in the following application note which describes how mass spectrometry analysis offers rapid allergen detection in wine samples and cuts analysis time in half in comparison to ELISA and PCR tests.

5. We use GC-MS/MS, and it Works Fine
Perhaps you already use mass spectrometry but hesitant to make the leap from GC-MS to LC-MS/MS? Don’t be. Although effective, GC involves complicated sample prep technique and is labor intensive. The need for more chemicals and human interaction also drive up your costs and limit testing to finite amounts of compounds. Using LC-MS/MS opens your lab up to more extensive molecule tests so you can enhance and accelerate your environmental and food testing.

Both GC-MS and LC-MS/MS are powerful analytical tools. However, LC-MS/MS lends greater capabilities for classifying analytes in different compound classes in a single run. Even when it comes to forensics, many toxicological analyses are being transferred from GC-MS to LC-MS/MS to take advantage of:

  • Reduced sample preparation and handling
  • Improved detection limits
  • Faster analytical run times

You can read more about these benefits in the following application note, Making the Leap to LC-MS/MS: Enhancing and Accelerating Analysis for Forensic Toxicology Applications.

Summary: It’s time to make the transition and join a growing community of researchers throughout the world who are making mass spectrometry part of their routine testing requirements. From verifying and validating biomarkers to improving identification of contaminants in food analysis, and discovering new drug candidates, mass spectrometry plays a massive role in peoples’ everyday lives. Why not make it part of yours?

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