What Are The Advantages/Disadvantages Of LC-MS/MS Over HPLC-UV/VIS Analysis?

For more than 15 years, LC-MS/MS or the liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry has been evolving as a vital technology for performing routine analysis across many clinical laboratories. Historically, LC-MS/MS is widely employed in pharmaceutical research or in commercial set-ups. The advances made to the technology for decreasing the basic costs involved have enabled clinical laboratories to adopt these instruments as potent clinical analyzers. 

This liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry has both the qualitative and quantitative edge, proving its worth for accomplishing a wide array of clinical trials. Most notably amongst these are: toxicology analysis, endocrinology, microbiology, therapeutic drug monitoring, etc. 

Recognizing LC-MS/MS as one of the key strategic technologies, most clinical laboratories now prefer it over other available routine clinical analyses. Traditionally, immunoassays were primarily employed for measuring low molecular weight compounds. Yet, they suffer from critical limitations such as problems associated with specificity or a lack of concordance between different assays coming from different bioanalytical kit developers. 

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On the other end, tandem MS/MS offers superior selectivity for a wide array of pharmaceutical analytes. It recognizes and distinguishes them by determining at least two of their physical properties – product ion mass and their precursor. 

The introduction of many soft ionization techniques, such as atmospheric pressure ionization and electrospray ionization techniques, has multiplied the working ability of tandem mass spectrometry. 

These advantages of LC-MS/MS are:

  • A more efficient ionization of the low molecular weight molecules in a liquid phase. This ease of resolution facilitates the coupling reaction between the high-performing liquid chromatography and tandem MS/MS
  • Versatility and flexibility enabling the laboratory to provide novel laboratory-developed biomarker tests. 
  • The detection of the analytes to their smallest possible detection limits. An edge to clinical laboratories for multiplexing, identifying, detecting, and subsequently quantifying several analytes of interest. 

LC-MS/MS techniques are considered the leading technology for pediatric laboratories with heaps of benefits to aid the researchers with their newborn screenings programs. It offers specificity, versatility, and sensitivity like no other technique. LC-MS/MS technique ensures both cost-effective and a rapid solution for confirmatory drug abuse testing. 

Now let us look at the challenges of LC-MS/MS 

Being highly complex, LC-MS/MS requires higher technical expertise for developing and validating all the subsequent laboratory-developed tests and the troubleshooting component. Unlike HPLC-UV/Vis assays, it is more likely that the LC-MS/MS assay variations may arise. The only possibility for this occurrence is that LC-MS/MS assays are neither standardized nor harmonized. Also, we do not even have commercial calibrators for calibrating the same. 

These days, most of the research laboratories prefer to switch from the GCMS techniques to the most advanced version of the LC-MS/MS technique, as these are fast, inexpensive, and operate. Extended measuring ranges and the ability to measure multiple steroids simultaneously are other added advantages of the lc ms ms analysis

On a concluding note, it can be inferred that the LC-MS/MS technique’s future is bright, as most of the instrument manufacturers are continuously working on its improvisation and automation. 

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