Issue Date: April 4, 2011
A perennial event at each Pittcon is the C&EN Luncheon, where prominent figures from the instrument industry and analytical research discuss the latest trends. This year, Andy Boorn, chief operating officer of AB Sciex, and Fabio Garofolo, vice president of bioanalytical services at Algorithme Pharma, Laval, Quebec, addressed the attendees.
Boorn confirmed that the instrument business has improved since the doldrums of 2009. For example, he said the market for mass spectrometers was $2.6 billion in 2010, 8.5% better than in the previous year. Even more growth, at levels of 15%, came in sales of liquid chromatographs interfaced to tandem mass spectrometers (LC-MS/MS instruments). Those instruments are aimed at the food safety and clinical research markets, Boorn said.
Trends in the MS field include increased software intelligence and efforts to make mass spectrometers more accessible to nonexperts, he said. He also noted an area for future progress: “improving the efficiency with which we get ions from the ion source to the instrument.”
In turn, Garofolo discussed speeding drug discovery with dried blood spot analysis—the use of LC-MS/MS to analyze blood spots obtained by finger sticks and deposited on cards (C&EN, Jan. 17, page 13). Dried blood spot analysis has been in use for the past 40 years, mostly for neonatal and infectious-disease screening. It has become increasingly popular since 2008, when evidence arose for its convenience and ability to reduce costs in preclinical and clinical trials.
Garofolo noted that since blood is a complex type of sample, improvements are necessary in dried blood testing’s detection sensitivity and selectivity against interferences. But if those goals can be achieved, the simplicity and low costs of dried blood spot analysis could lead to a bright future for this versatile technique, he said.
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