Clinical LC-MS – Great Slave or Terrible Master?

Martin Perkins

27th May 2011

Anatune at ACB Focus, Harrogate, May 2011

Anatune demostrate the LC-MS Sample Preparation Workstation

LC-tandem MS MS is rapidly becoming a very important tool for clinical analysis. While this is undoubtedly a good thing (LC-MS provides access to valuable new information), it does bring fresh challenges to clinical laboratory managers.

This week, the Association of Clinical Biochemistry held its annual conference in Harrogate. Anatune participated in the event for the first time, and we exhibited our LC-MS sample preparation workstation.

We had the opportunity to talk to lots of clinical analysts. It is clear that when labs get involved in LC-MS, often, the amount of work needed to prepare samples creates serious staffing issues and, as we all know, for the foreseeable future, for the NHS, employing more people isn’t going to be much of an option.

An LC-MS is an expensive beast. To achieve good value for money, it is vital that it is kept fed with samples, and generating useful data 24/7. This can be tough to do when you have to rely on busy people to prepare samples by hand and sample preparation commonly fails to keep pace with the demands placed upon it – however hard people work.

This is a point that other instrument suppliers seem to have missed. There has been plenty of effort put into creating fantastic technology inside the box – but little thought has been given to facilitating effective work-flow on the outside.

To my mind, automating sample preparation is essential. Only by doing so can you ensure that your LC-MS turns out to be a great slave rather than a terrible master.

In this context, it isn’t surprising that our Sample Preparation Workstation attracted so much attention. Definitely a case of the right product at the right time.

For Anatune this week has been an unqualified success. It was a great team effort and we handsomely exceeded all of the business targets that we set ourselves. We have a lot of serious enquiries that will keep us busy now for the rest of the year.