Forensic and Diagnostic Testing

Evaporative sample preparation for forensic and diagnostic clinical tests must be performed scrupulously. Genevac systems are used by clinical biochemists and forensic scientists for a number of testing methodologies, such as vitamin D or K analysis, neonatal screening and forensic toxicology.

Mass Spectrometry (MS) is replacing radio-immunoassay (RIA) in Clinical biochemistry analysis, removing the need to use radioactive reagents. One of the Steroid assays performed by hospital clinical labs is for Vitamin D analysis where there is a need to identify the relative abundance of vitamin D2 and D3. Samples are typically extracted into Hexane, concentrated (e.g. using a miVac) and analysed by MS (avoiding ion suppression problems often seen with RIA).

Clinical and forensic toxicology investigations also utilise MS methodology, typically with solid phase extraction and evaporation as part of the sample preparation process. Blood and urine analysis can be utilised as part of a medico-legal investigation into drug-related deaths and drug-facilitated crimes and in the clinical assessment of alcohol/drug consumption. Hair analysis can also provide evidence over time of drug or alcohol abuse, as part of programme compliance for those participating in drug or alcohol dependency treatment or for workplace or health insurance screening. The EZ-2 has been used to streamline the sample preparation process whilst maintaining sample integrity and improving sensitivity.

Tandem MS is also used to identify metabolic disorders which include aminoacidemias, urea cycle disorders, organic acidurias, and fatty acid oxidation disorders. Samples can be presented as plasma, urine, and blood spots or urine on filter paper. Sample preparation techniques can include solvent extraction, acid derivitisation and evaporation prior to reconstitution in a suitable medium for injection to MS. Evaporation of butanolic HCl used for derivatisation using blowdown techniques results in corrosion of the system especially pins/needles/jets which can lead to contamination of samples and erroneous results. The EZ-2 with HCI resistance commonly used for these sample preparation stages. One example would be the test for CAT (carnitine acyl carnitine translocase deficiency) in neonates, an inborn error of metabolism. Lack of this enzyme prevents the body from converting fats into energy. Labs do the initial test on Guthrie cards (dried blood spots). The cards are punched and extracted with 200ul of Methanol. The supernatant is placed into microtitre plates and dried. Samples are then derivatised using approx 100ul 3N HCl in anhydrous Butanol and dried again. Finally, samples are re-suspended in Water & acetonitrile for analysis by MS.

miVac concentrators have been used by the Australian Sports Drug Testing Laboratory to improve the testing for synthetic insulin analogues in athletes' blood samples. Using the miVac's ability to control conditions during the concentration step the analyst has more confidence that they are seeing the true blood concentration of potential drugs of abuse in the athlete's sample.


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