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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Sep 2022 - 16 Sep 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Aug 28

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci


A Second-generation opioid LC-MS/MS assay improves laboratory workflow and capacity.


Liao H-C, Laha TJ, Baird GS, Chan K K, Hoofnagle AN
J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2022 Aug 28; 1210:123438.
PMID: 36087536.


The widespread use of opioid drugs has contributed to escalating rates of addiction, overdoses, and drug-related deaths. Targeted urine drug screening plays an important role in supporting the care of patients with chronic pain or addiction. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) can provide excellent sensitivity and specificity, and, as a result, remains the definitive choice for confirmatory urine drug testing. However, the complexities of LC-MS/MS operation present major challenges to the clinical laboratory. In this study, we leveraged upgraded instrumentation to develop and validate a simplified "dilute-and-shoot" LC-MS/MS opioid assay. By modifying the chromatographic gradient, isobaric interferences were well-resolved and eliminated. Analytical ranges were expanded by utilizing alternative mass transitions, and updated quality assurance parameters were established. Results from 204 clinical samples correlated well between the new method and a previous version. The upgraded systems provided better sensitivity, greater dynamic ranges, and the new method reduced carryover, which enabled us to eliminate extra injections and chromatogram reviews. The new method also reduced turnaround time and doubled testing capacity. These improvements could serve as a model for other laboratories approaching a similar transition in mass spectrometric instrumentation.