How mass spectrometry helps drug testing

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  • Published: Aug 7, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Detectors / Laboratory Informatics / Sample Preparation / Gas Chromatography / Electrophoresis / Proteomics & Genomics / Ion Chromatography / HPLC / MRI Spectroscopy / Raman / X-ray Spectrometry / Chemometrics & Informatics / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Proteomics / Base Peak / NMR Knowledge Base / Atomic / Infrared Spectroscopy

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In the wake of the latest allegations of widespread drug use in athletics, a timely review has been published that examines the role played by mass spectrometry in drug testing labs. Written by the experienced drug testing scientists Mario Thevis and Wilhelm Schanzer in Mass Spectrometry Reviews, it looks at the historical and current analytical methods employed using GC/MS and LC/MS.

The wide range of banned substances that can be detected and measured in human testing programmes by mass spectrometry is illustrated by discussions on anabolic agents, sirtuin-I activating compounds, peptides, hormones, growth factors, and other metabolic modulators such as insulins and AMPK axis agonists.

The detailed discussion also explains the different kinds of mass spectrometry techniques that have been isotope labelling, high-resolution measurements, tandem mass spectrometry and ICPMS.

While this review reflects the state-of-the-art and helps to explain why mass spectrometry is at the forefront of WADA drug testing regimes, it is clearly not a closed programme. The ingenuity of the illegal chemists who continue to invent new performance-enhancing substances ensures that mass spectrometrists will have to be equally good to develop new methods for their detection.

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