Mass spectrometry (MS) is an important analytical technique that enables users to determine the chemical makeup of a sample, even in complex matrices. Developments in ionization techniques, mass analyzers and detection systems, along with the ability to hyphenate to other tools, have meant that MS has been able to keep pace with evolving analytes and demands, earning it a place in many labs.
Download this infographic to explore:
• The diverse applications to which MS is being applied
• How technique variants and hyphenation can help meet analytical needs
• The capabilities of MS that make it well suited to certain analytical challenges
Verify the concentrations of product
components and active ingredients
Ensure the integrity,
stability and conformation of biological
molecules is maintained
in the desired form
and for the shelf-life
of the product
MS is a powerful and essential tool in the field of omics, specifically proteomics, metabolomics,
lipidomics and glycomics.
In the clinic, MS is becoming a vital tool, able to detect and quantitate trace levels of known and unknown targets
in complex samples. Advancements in areas such as ionization have helped to create growing applications of
MS in the clinic, including:
Cross-linking MS (XL-MS) is an important a tool in structural biology, revealing information on protein
interaction networks within biological samples, from proteins to macromolecular complexes, cells
and even tissues.
Among others, it provides insights for:
Amino acid Polypeptide
α-Helixes Complex of
MS is a key tool for the detection of many environmental contaminants, both well known and emerging.
Adjustments in sample preparation mean that it is able to cope with a wide variety of environmental sample types
including water, soil and air.
MS combined with liquid chromatography (LC) or gas
chromatography (GC) is one of the most common
techniques used for pesticide residue testing.
While they may protect our foodstuffs from damage,
pesticides can be harmful to the environment and
ecosystems, and it is therefore important to monitor
levels. This enables the amounts used to be minimized
and issues such as contamination at harmful levels or in
undesirable locations to be detected.
PFAS has emerged as a contaminant of concern,
entering the environment from sources such as stainand water-resistant coatings, firefighting foam and
cleaning products. MS-based detection offers a low
limit of detection and excellent sensitivity in monitoring
the issue. Protocol variations enable the detection of
both volatile and non-volatile targets.
Their sensitivity makes MS-based techniques an excellent fit for many forensics studies.
MS is used to analyze foods and beverages for many reasons including to:
Food and beverage analysis
MS plays a key role in detecting drugs
of abuse in the general public, criminal
victims and in sports.
MS techniques, including those
employing ambient ionization methods,
have proved useful in the detection of
toxic industrial compounds,
chemical warfare agents and
High spatial resolution MSI has become
a rising star in chemical hair-strand
analysis, helping to determine exposure to
and uptake of toxins and drugs, information that can also help in
The analysis of materials and techniques
used in artworks is vital in conservation
efforts, for which MS-based techniques have
been of great utility.
Whether chemicals are being extracted and purified or synthesized from other component chemicals, it is
important that scientists and engineers can be sure of what they have, how pure it is and how much they
have of it.
For example, in the petrochemicals industry, MS paired with GC (GC-MS) is used at multiple stages of the
prospecting, refining, formulation and QC process to identify contaminants, determine the ratios of the constituent
chemicals and make process improvements among other things.
Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is routinely used to detect contaminating trace
elements such as arsenic, nickel and iron.
MS is a key tool in multiple stages of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical lifecycles, from discovery right
through to the final product.
Mass spectrometry (MS) is an important analytical technique that enables users to
determine the chemical makeup of a sample, even in complex matrices. Developments
in ionization techniques, mass analyzers and detection systems, along with the ability to
hyphenate to other tools, have meant that MS has been able to keep pace with evolving
analytes, needs and demands. This has earned it a place in labs across many sectors,
offering high sensitivity and specificity.
THIS INFOGRAPHIC WILL EXPLORE THE DIVERSE APPLICATIONS
TO WHICH MASS SPECTROMETRY IS BEING APPLIED ACROSS
DRUG BEHAVIOR CLINICAL TRIALS
TARGET DISCOVERY FOR
MS can be used to determine the
identity of antigenic proteins or
peptides, helping to identify targets
for novel therapeutics.
When developing new drugs,
understanding the absorption, distribution,
metabolism and excretion (ADME) of those
compounds is important. MS can prove
helpful here, with MS imaging (MSI) techniques
revealing the drug’s distribution around the body.
While MS has traditionally played
a limited role in vaccine discovery
and development, the expansion
of vaccines using recombinant
antigens or virus-like particles has
offered an opportunity for MS to
provide helpful structural insights.
During clinical trials or treatments,
MS can be used to monitor the levels
of compounds in body fluids such
as plasma, helping to refine dosing
strategies or routes of administration.
Quality control (QC) is a key step in the production of pharmaceuticals and
biopharmaceuticals, for which MS is essential. It is used to:
Investigating fundamental biology
Identifying potential drug candidates
Understanding and predicting disease
Process refinement in producing desirable products
Diagnosis of infectious and non-infectious disease
MS can identify bacterial
species rapidly and has
been used to detect
informing treatment plans
MS-based proteomics is
a powerful tool in disease
spanning conditions from
type 1 diabetes to chronic
By studying protein
expression profiles by MS
alongside genomic profiles,
clinicians are able to tailor
treatment plans to best suite
the responses of individuals
MS imaging (MSI)
offers great insights
on the localization
of biomolecules. For
example, in neuroscience,
it has been used to image
Foodstuffs must be tested for veterinary
drug residues to keep consumers safe, for
which liquid chromatography-tandem mass
spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) is the technique
favored thanks to its high sensitivity.
Other food-based targets tested for with
MS include heavy metals, mineral oil
hydrocarbons (MOH), bisphenol A (BPA)
and other food contact contaminants.
MS is a fundamental tool in the formulation
of novel food products, helping to
evaluate nutritional quality, improve
consumer experience and detect potential
undesirable byproducts. This has been
particularly useful in the development of
alternative protein sources for the future
When determining the authenticity of foods,
the ability of MS to differentiate very similar
chemical profiles, such as low-quality wine
sold as a wine from a premium vineyard, or
detect the presence of an adulterant, such as
melamine in milk, makes it a key tool in
Miniaturization and advances in MS
technology to enable ambient ionization
are facilitating an ongoing trend towards
portable, on-site quality and safety testing.
Inform new formulations
Determine nutritional value and nutrient profile
Environmental contaminants, such as
pesticides and PFAS, can find their way into the
food chain, posing different analytical challenges relating to sample media. For example, extraction and
detection in soil requires different processing steps compared to food stuffs such as tomato-based pasta
sauces or oils that have high acidity and fat content respectively. Workflows must therefore be tailored to
specific sample types.
AS TECHNOLOGY CONTINUES TO ADVANCE AND
INSTRUMENTS BECOME MORE USER-FRIENDLY AND PORTABLE,
IT IS LIKELY WE WILL CONTINUE TO SEE MS EMERGING AS A
KEY TOOL IN MORE AND MORE AREAS.