Welcome to Innovation Focus

April 2019

Conference Highlights

Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT) Annual Meeting 2018

The Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc. is a not‐for‐profit professional organization composed of practicing forensic toxicologists and those interested in the discipline for the purpose of promoting and developing forensic toxicology. Through its annual meetings, the society provides a forum for the exchange of information and ideas among toxicology professionals in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

The Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT) Annual Meeting was held October 7th – 12th, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A total of 985 attendees from over 15 countries participated in educational sessions and the many fun-filled social and networking activities that occurred during the week.

SCIEX held two Lunch’N Learn sessions at the conference:

Lunch’N Learn Day 1 Session: A New Era for Routine Forensic Drug Screening: Making the Leap Towards High Resolution Mass Spectrometry and Differential Ion Mobility Technology

Speakers: Melanie Stauffer, Health Networks Labs & Larry Campbell, SCIEX

  • Presentation – Melanie Stauffer is a certified scientist in toxicology at Health Network Laboratories (HNL)

Lunch’N Learn Day 2 Session: New Approaches for Streamlining Analytical Sample Preparation and Targeted Analysis of Novel Psychoactive Substances

Speakers: Danielle Moore, Phenomenex & Casey Burrows, SCIEX

  • Presentation – Danielle Moore is a clinical field applications scientist at Phenomenex
  • Presentation – Casey Burrows is an applications support scientist at SCIEX

Did you miss us at SOFT 2018? Here’s your digital rundown of the latest forensic toxicology topics we covered at the event.

Download all of the materials from this year’s SCIEX forensic events, including:

  • Poster – Comprehensive Drug Screening in Whole Blood Samples Using LC-MS Analysis and UCT QuEChERS Extraction Procedures
  • Poster – Ultra-Sensitive Forensic Analysis Workflow of Cocaine and Its Metabolites in Hair Samples using LC-MS/MS
  • Tech Note – SWATH® Acquisition Enables the Ultra-Fast and Accurate Determination of Novel Synthetic Opioids
  • Tech Note – Efficiently Designed Workflows Provide Accurate Results in Forensic Analysis of THC-COOH in Hair Samples
  • Tech Note – Single-Injection Screening of 664 Forensic Toxicology Compounds on a SCIEX X500R QTOF System
  • Tech Note – Advancing Forensic DUID Screening with Mass Spectrometry

Bonus: Exclusive access to our latest forensic content. Just for you. Download now!

You can find the 2018 SOFT meeting abstracts here:

Customers Talk, We Listen​

SCIEX OS Software—The Modern Software Suite: Accuracy, Efficiency, Simplicity at Your Fingertips

Your feedback made it possible to engineer a software solution that meets your needs today and for the future. SCIEX OS has evolved into a powerful software solution that reflects the versatility and flexibility you require. It’s a comprehensive software suite that’s got you covered with its modular concept, customizable to your workflow.

SCIEX OS was designed exclusively for the X-Series QTOF systems so that you can acquire data, analyze results, and publish reports, all within the same interface for enhanced productivity.

Don´t want to get left behind? SCIEX OS-Q is your upgrade from MasterView™ Software and advances your data processing capabilities with ease and confidence, capable of analyzing data acquired on SCIEX Triple Quad™, QTRAP®, and TripleTOF® instruments. It´s the integrated platform for multiple workflows, optimized for qualitative and quantitative data analysis.

Turn the software you have into the SCIEX OS-MQ you want. MultiQuant™ Software has met your lab´s needs for many years and has now progressed into an even more powerful software solution, SCIEX OS-MQ, processing data generated by Analyst® Software and Analyst® TF Software

Flexible Configurations to Change the Way You Work

Whether your workflow needs are basic or complex, from fully compliant routine analyses to totally flexible research workflows or anything in between, SCIEX OS Software can be configured to support them all.

To that end, a specific focus was placed on enhancing the data processing capabilities in SCIEX OS-Q and SCIEX OS-MQ, which simultaneously will also benefit SCIEX OS users. As a scientist you will benefit from these new features in version 1.5, further improving the efficiency of how you analyze your MS data.

  • User-Defined Flagging Rules and Calculated Columns: You can add custom calculated columns to the Results Table by selecting operators, functions, columns, and regression parameters in the formula editor. Also, you can create custom flagging rules to flag results in both standard and custom columns, based on criteria such as a minimum or maximum value, a range, a mean, or a standard deviation. Results below the specified value are shown in blue. Results above the specified value are shown in red. The Results Table can be filtered on the custom calculated columns. When applying a flagging rule based on ion ratio, you can now exclude blanks and small peaks from the ion ratio calculation.
  • Import Processing Method Parameters: MQ4 and Summation integration parameters are now exported along with components. You can choose to import just the components, or the components and the integration parameters. This feature facilitates the transfer of methods from one processing computer to another and with the conversion of MultiQuant software processing methods.
  • Reportable Results: In the Results Table, in either sample or component view, you can select the results to be included in reports, exports, and LIMS transfers.
  • Link of Data Explorer to Analytics to Perform Structural Elucidation: With one click, you can open the Explorer workspace to view the peak currently shown in the Peak Review pane in the Analytics workspace.
  • Network Acquisition: Projects can now be stored on network resources: you can acquire data to a network resource and process data stored on a network resource. By centralizing data, this feature facilitates data sharing and backup. If a network interruption occurs, data acquisition continues locally, and the data is transferred to the network when it becomes available.
  • LC Pressure Trace: LC pump pressure traces are now stored in the data file, and they can be viewed in the Explorer workspace.

Download the SCIEX OS brochure now, experience all the benefits in a free 30-day trial or request a demo to get hands-on experience.

Feature Article

When Chiral Separation Turns Tricky: The Story Behind CESI-MS in Forensic Chiral Analysis

More than half of the drugs currently in use are chiral compounds, available as either racemates or pure enantiomers. With increasing substances of forensic interest falling within this category, chiral analysis is firmly under the forensic microscope. Chiral separation of drug enantiomers is essential in order to show that the active enantiomer is, in fact, present in your specimens.

In the past, chiral analysis has combined several processes. It would typically start with drug confirmation by a form of mass spectrometry (capillary electrophoresis CE-MS, gas chromatography GC-MS or liquid chromatography LC-MS) followed by separation of the enantiomers and impurities by a specific chiral separation technique, such as chiral capillary electrophoresis or chiral chromatography. It’s fair to say that this approach can be problematic, would you agree?

We’ve found that direct connection of chiral GC or LC columns with mass spectrometry provides, at best, marginal separation capability. But that’s not all. Neutral or highly sulfated cyclodextrin additives in chromatographic and electro-driven separation modes can cause contamination and ion suppression in the electrospray process. This is far from ideal!

Where does CESI-MS come in?

Have you heard of low flow Capillary Electrophoresis Electrospray Interface for Mass Spectrometry (CESI-MS) using a Partial Filling Technique (PFT)? It’s proven to generate chiral separation and produce quantitative data at the sensitivity that forensic toxicologists require for even the most challenging casework.

We put the method to the test in the tech note Chiral Analysis of Methamphetamine and Its Metabolite, Amphetamine in Urine by CESI-MS. This new technique separated the enantiomers of methamphetamine and its metabolite, amphetamine, in a single run, with great sensitivity.

Fast Novel Psychoactive Substance Testing, At Your Fingertips

Why Dried Blood Spot Analysis Is the Way to Go for Novel Psychoactive Substances (And Why You Need This SCIEX LC-MS/MS Method)

Dried blood spot sampling technique was first introduced 55 years ago, and it has become the method of choice for newborn screening around the world. Anyone with children will remember that moment in the hospital when the nurse pricks the heel of your tiny new baby to squeeze out a few drops of blood onto a card. It’s an anxious moment but it’s over in a flash, and necessary to screen for rare but serious health conditions.

But what does this have to do with forensic testing of novel psychoactive substances, after all, it is quite a leap to talk about newborn babies and then onto designer drugs? While dried blood spot sampling and analysis had to overcome hurdles in the early days, particularly due to low analytical throughput, there is a very good reason for its increasing attention in recent years in other applications.

It offers a faster, simpler alternative to serum/plasma or whole blood analysis in drug monitoring for toxicological analysis. In the tech note LC-MS/MS Screening of 64 New Psychoactive Substances Using Dried Blood Spots (as an Alternative to Whole Blood) we demonstrate the advantages, and here’s a rundown:

  • The benefit of collecting a small sample volume: Only a few drops of capillary blood needs to be sampled on filter paper and can be collected with low invasive techniques, such as from the fingertip, compared to blood sampling via venipuncture.
  • Easier, cost-efficient storage and transporting: After drying the paper for around 3 hours at room temperature, it can be stored in a specimen bag until preparation and analysis, and can be easily transported by standard mail, not requiring temperature regulation.
  • Short- and long-term metabolite stability: Analytes of interest in this work are stable in dried blood spots for at least a week when cooled and even longer if frozen. Prepared samples are stable for at least 3 days.
  • Significantly simplified and faster sample preparation: Sample preparation is very fast, easy, efficient and non-selective, which allows the expansion of this method as the number of designer drugs is constantly increasing.
  • Supports government action on new drugs: The method can be expanded upon to control the advent of new substances, such as the European Monitoring System for Drugs and Addiction (EMCDDA) Early Warning Program notification of new substances.

The small sample volume also means that the concentration of the target analyte is potentially quite low (e.g., less than 1 ng/L), requiring a highly sensitive and selective analysis method for detection and quantification. But in theory, there isn’t a catch if there is a solution, mass spectrometry. It is now the most common technique reported in literature for dried blood spot analysis and Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) sets the benchmark.

In our method, researchers use the highly sensitive QTRAP® LC-MS/MS in Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) mode using the Scheduled MRM™ Algorithm. The method is applied to authentic samples, and results are compared to a validated whole blood method used for routine analysis of NPS, yielding similar results. LOD was between 1 and 10 ng/ml, no interference from matrix compounds was observed, and the method was proven to be specific and selective for the analytes.

Turbocharge THC-COOH Hair Analysis with Super Sensitive LC-MS/MS and Solid Phase Extraction

Do you want a more efficient workflow for the forensic analysis of THC-COOH in hair samples? Yes! Do we know a simple, highly sensitive technique? You bet! Find out how you can detect THC-COOH in hair down to 0.2 pg/mg trace concentration levels with excellent accuracy (>95%) and precision (<15%).

Marijuana is the most widely used recreational drug in the world, with reported users as high as 234.1 million worldwide. Forensic toxicology labs face the task of testing hundreds of thousands of samples every year to identify drug misuse in relation to a range of civil and criminal investigations, such as intoxicated driving investigations, child custody cases, sexual assault cases, and parole abstinence monitoring.

The presence of the main marijuana metabolite – THC-COOH – can be detected in urine, blood, and saliva and indicate active drug use. While these biological fluids are valuable in determining use in the short term, hair testing offers an advantage due to its larger detection window. Consequently, for accurate detection of long-term cannabis use (up to 90 days), hair samples are far more reliable sources and are widely accepted in criminal and civil courts.

However, using hair for detecting cannabis does provide its own analytical challenges. Firstly, the concentration of THC-COOH in hair samples is characteristically low, and secondly, there is a high abundance of matrix interferences that specifically impact the detection of THC-COOH.

Efficient Workflow. Sensitive Detection. Accurate Results.

Presenting an efficiently designed analysis approach that gives accurate results. Our workflow combines the TripleQuad™ 4500 LC-MS/MS System with a solid phase extraction procedure that allows the reliable and sensitive detection of THC-COOH at trace levels (0.2 pg/mg) in hair matrix.

Top three highlights:

  1. Benefit from an efficient 6-step extraction protocol using Strong Anion Exchange (SAX) Solid Phase Extraction to remove complex matrix interferences. This can be rapidly implemented and optimized for selective analysis of THC-COOH in hair.
  2. SCIEX TripleQuad 4500 LC-MS/MS Systems feature high analyte recovery for stable and sensitive performance from Turbo V™ source; ultra-fast MRM cycle times to increase sample throughput and data quality; and up to 5 orders of dynamic range for high-performance quantitation, reducing the need for repeat analysis.
  3. Achieve fast quantitation thanks to powerful MultiQuant™ Software 3.0, delivering streamlined and accurate data processing of trace level concentrations of THC-COOH. With less manual intervention you can release more accurate results, faster.

This workflow for the forensic analysis of THC-COOH in hair samples is ready to be integrated into your forensic toxicology laboratory. You will experience more accurate results with a more efficient workflow designed to support optimum throughput and sensitivity.

To read more about these topics above, take a look at our Forensics Compendium.

Survey Results​

SCIEX Software Feature Requests

The all new software feature requests site where you can submit ideas for new software features and updates to current features is awaiting your ideas!

Your ideas go directly to our product management team for regular review. Once you submit an idea, you can check back on the site to see latest updates.

Recently, a feature request was submitted for SCIEX OS regarding LC Pressure Data.

This enhancement is most useful to help you with troubleshooting and for quality purposes. For instance, a pressure increase can indicate that an analytical column replacement is due.

LC pump pressure traces are now stored in the data file, acquired from X500 series QTOF systems, and they can be viewed in the Explorer workspace. This applies to Shimadzu and Agilent HPLC systems currently.


The capability to monitor and store LC pressure trace with data is now introduced in SCIEX OS 1.5.

Tips and Tricks​

Your Software is a Download Away

Advance your research, improve productivity, and make critical decisions faster than before with better data from your mass spec. SCIEX software solutions help you maximize the efficiency and performance of your LC/MS workflow-regardless of field. Enjoy all the features of selected SCIEX Software with a free trial license. Choose from feature software trials to get ready to experience full versions of the software for 30 days.

Install and Activate Trial SCIEX Software

Follow these steps to start your software trial:

  1. Install Software:
    • Visit the featured software trails page, and select ‘Start Trial’ on the software you wish to try.
    • Once you select the software, you will be asked to log into your SCIEX.com account, if you don’t have a SCIEX.com account, you’ll need to create one.
    • You will receive a 36-character license key that begins with the letters AID- in the email that is associated with your SCIEX.com account. Be sure to keep this on hand as you will need this license key to activate your trial license.
    • Save the software file, unzip or extract the files to run the setup.
  2. Activate Trial License: Now that you’ve installed the software, it’s time to activate your license to start your 30-day trial.
    • To begin activation, log into your SCIEX.com account and have your license key ready.
    • Complete the form by selecting your instrument, inputting your computer ID, and license key. If you don’t see an instrument listed, please select ‘other’ and add the serial number of the instrument you are using.
    • Your license file will be sent to the email address associated with your sciex.com account, if you need to change that email address, please request support.
    • Check your inbox for the license file (.lic). Follow the instructions in the email to install the license file and launch the software to get started.

Alternative license activation: You can also complete your license key activation via the activation wizard when installing software. In this instance, you will launch the software you wish to activate, fill in the details in the pop-up window and you’ll receive an email of the license file. Follow the instructions in the email to install the license file and complete your software activation.

If you need more help or guidance or misplaced your software license key, please contact SCIEX Support.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting Courses

Video – Discover strategies, advice, tips and tricks from major biopharmaceutical analytical development labs on how to fully leverage high resolution charge heterogeneity analysis


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