Guest Author: Jenny Cybulski
While we can’t always agree on the same thing, an overwhelming amount of bioanalytical lab analysts would agree that even though sample preparation is a necessary step, it can often feel more like a necessary evil.
What was originally intended to help your analysis is now seen as an added inconvenience. Analysts often complain of the large amount of time it takes to run samples, the complicated methods, and additional costs associated with sample preparation. But sample prep has its upsides. It saves columns from premature death, results from irreproducibility due to matrix contamination or variation, and systems from unnecessary repairs. Instead of viewing sample preparation as an added problem to lab workflow, it should be used as an essential weapon to prevent inconsistent or poor results. Let’s get back to the basics on the most effective sample preparation options for your bioanalytical samples, propelling you towards the future of a stress-free lab.
We all fear what we don’t know and when the fundamental knowledge behind Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) isn’t well understood, then it can seem complicated and overwhelming. But no need to fear! It’s easy! SPE follows a simple catch-and-release method between the sorbent and analyte of interest. The SPE sorbent is selected based on the ability of target analytes to chemically bond or interact with the SPE sorbent when loaded. The analyte is then released by breaking that interaction with a strong organic elution solvent or a change in the pH. If you want to learn more about SPE, read about it in our Bioanalytical Sample Prep Guide.
Due to the amount of sample that is loaded onto the sorbent and the volume of extraction solvent used, SPE can also work to concentrate samples, which is an advantage over other types of sample preparation. While this method traditionally takes about 5 steps, once the method development is completed, it can be easily implemented within a lab and run even faster with a positive pressure or automation system. Sounds like a win! If you need help deciding which SPE sorbent and format is right for your analytes, we offer a simple tool to help. In under one minute, you can develop your personalized method and even request a free sample! www.phenomenex.com/mdtool
While SPE will result in clean and concentrated samples, it may not be the best option for your lab. With advances in the instrument market, mass spec systems are becoming even more sensitive, allowing for analysis of very low analyte concentrations. However, this also results in a sensitivity to matrix interferences. A simple chemical filter product with an easy and quick pass-through method may be the best for labs who need adequately clean results and are trying to save on time. These types of products offer a quick solution using a sorbent that removes specific matrix interferences, such as large proteins or phospholipids, with minimal method development. For example, Phree™ Phospholipid Removal Products follow simple steps (load, mix, and collect) which simultaneously remove proteins and phospholipids from samples without the need to perform method development.
A quick and easy sample preparation protocol? You better believe it! You can now relax and kick up your feet! Okay…maybe not, but it does simplify the process to start analyzing cleaner biological samples.
And then there is supported liquid extraction (SLE), which is a sample preparation technique that mimics the procedure of liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) by utilizing a solid support sorbent. As far as cleanliness goes, it is right in the middle of SPE and protein/phospholipid removal techniques, but it is an easy transition for labs currently running LLE, providing them with a chance to automate their sample prep workflow, decrease solvent use, and achieve more consistent results. The sample is loaded onto the SLE sorbent in an aqueous solvent where it is absorbed. Target analytes can then be eluted by applying an organic solvent that disrupts the analyte sorbent interactions and leaves the interferences on the sorbent. The method development is as simple as testing extraction solvents across multiple wells or tubes and testing recovery. The protocol involves 2 easy steps: load and collect.
Once again, an easy method that can save time and solvent usage…don’t believe it? Call us and let us send you a sample of our two SLE solutions, a traditional diatomaceous earth sorbent and a unique, synthetic sorbent. Check out the difference between the two options and decide which is most appropriate for your analysis. Download here
As we move forward in the market, and as larger molecules hold a greater importance, a shift will be seen in sample preparation techniques. At Phenomenex, we will always be striving to be the expert provider for sample preparation and a portal for knowledge. Keep an eye out for what’s to come, we’re really excited about it!