An Overview Of Mass Spectrometry for Drug Development And Testing

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Mass spectrometry (MS) is a method of analyzing the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. It has both qualitative and quantitative applications. It can measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions, for example.

Mass spectrometry (MS) as a method for chemical analysis is exactly a century old. Two scientists discovered modern techniques of mass spectrometry. One of them is the Canadian-American physicist Arthur Jeffrey Dempster. The other one is the English chemist cum physicist Francis William Aston.

Dempster discovered these methods in 1918. Aston independently found them a year later.

But its application to the pharmaceutical industry has grown phenomenally in the last few decades. Today, mass spectrometry analysis is a vital part of pharmaceutical RD.

What Is Mass Spectrometry Analysis


Mass spectrometry analysis can identify unknown compounds. It can also find out the isotopic composition in any sample molecule. Mass spectrometry data analysis is superior to most other techniques of chemical analysis. It can minimize background interference because of its higher sensitivity. 

Uses of Mass Spectrometry in Drug Development


Drug metabolism, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacokinetics studies constituted the initial uses of mass spectrometry data analysis in the pharmaceutical industry

Pharmacodynamics is the study of how a living organism reacts to a particular drug. Pharmacokinetics focuses on the movement of a drug in the body of a living organism. 

Today, all the phases of drug development apply mass spectrometry analysis. Drug, discovery, the preclinical phase, and the clinical phase are the three main stages. Its role is critical in drug discovery. It helps to identify which chemical compound will be most suitable for developing a drug.

The probable toxicity of a drug gets tested on rodent and non-rodent species in the preclinical stage.This is critical to determine the dosage related issues. Mass spectrometry in combination with liquid chromatography (LC-MS) is one of the most efficient methods used for that. 

Once a drug reaches the clinical stage, MS analysis enables pharmacokinetic studies. These results are necessary for filing a new drug application (NDA). 

Common Features of Modern Mass Spectrometers

Modern mass spectrometers combine several functions. Online separation, an ion source, an analyzer, and a detector are the parts. The first action is to separate a compound into all its isotopic elements.

The ion source charges the analyte so that the analyte gains a mass to charge ratio. The analyzer measures the mass-to-charge values of different ions and categorizes them accordingly.

 Different molecules with varying mass to charge values pass through the detector. The mass detector counts them. It then generates a mass scale computerized spectrum. 

Mass Spectrometry Data Analysis


Data analysis is a vital function of MS analysis. One common area of application is proteomics. Proteomics needs to analyze proteins and peptides. It requires both quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Modern mass spectrometers can generate large quantities of data and analyze them.


Mass Spectrometry in Combination with Other High-End Techniques

Mass spectrometry is by itself a highly sophisticated analytical method. Its potency increases further in combination with other high-quality techniques. Gas or liquid chromatography (LC GC), capillary electrophoresis (CE), etc. are some examples.