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Access Agilent eNewsletter July 2015

Premier lab uses Agilent StreamSelect System to increase LC/MS throughput in clinical research

By Maria VanDamme
Agilent Product Manager, StreamSelect LC/MS

Cleveland HeartLab runs a research and development laboratory where next-generation cardiovascular disease biomarkers are being investigated. These studies depend on flexible, sensitive Agilent triple quadrupole MS systems for highest performance and accuracy (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Agilent StreamSelect LC/MS System.

We recently spoke with one of the thought leaders from this organization. Dr. Cory Bystrom is Vice President of Research and Development at Cleveland HeartLab, where he is responsible for novel biomarker identification and commercialization.

Bystrom explained, “Our use of mass spectrometry has grown a lot in the last 3 years – from two to eight mass spectrometers between R&D and operations.”

MS acquires data for the important time segments of four simultaneous chromatograms

When asked about challenges his group faces, Bystrom explained, “Clinical research is a tough industry. There is a drive for efficiency and cost containment at all times, while always needing to deliver the highest quality information.”

To address these pressures, his company must make extremely effective use of its MS systems in clinical research. The lab uses the Agilent StreamSelect LC/MS System to interface a single Agilent 6400 Series Triple Quadrupole LC/MS to four Agilent 1200 Infinity Series LC Systems. That strategy enables analysts to use four of the more affordable sample introduction systems (LCs) to alternatively deliver column effluents to a single MS. The Agilent StreamSelect LC/MS System uses intelligent valve switching so that the MS acquires data only for the portion of each LC run when compounds of interest are eluted.

Figure 2. The Agilent StreamSelect LC/MS System increases MS throughput because it uses intelligent software to interface up to four simultaneously running LCs with a single MS.

With the tremendous cost pressures that are typical of clinical research laboratories, Bystrom’s group must generate sizable income from each MS. The Agilent StreamSelect LC/MS System helps justify the investment in new mass spectrometers, because they are able to deliver a higher ROI for the company. “The mass spectrometer is the most expensive analytical tool and taking advantage of technologies that drive as many samples to the MS as possible is very important.”

Same analytical performance with one or up to 4 streams

When using a multistream system, it is critical that each LC system produces equivalent results. ”What’s great about The StreamSelect LC/MS system is that it successfully delivers great analytical performance with no sacrifices to accuracy or precision as throughput increases”. Says Bystrom

Prevent lost data during unattended operation

One aspect of the Agilent StreamSelect LC/M System that Bystrom really appreciates is its intelligent error handling. With reliable two-way communication between all LC and MS components, each part of the system “knows” what the other parts are doing. If one of the four LCs shuts down (for example, because an LC pump has exceeded its pressure limit), the other three LCs continue to handle the sample with no missed injections or interruptions. Bystrom now feels assured that he can run samples overnight or over the weekend without worry that he will lose valuable data due to LC interruptions.

“The performance monitoring and error correction capabilities are great. We don’t miss injections or experience partially completed sample batches even when there is a disruption to one or more streams.”

For the high-efficiency clinical research environment that Cleveland HeartLab maintains, Bystrom also appreciates that the Agilent StreamSelect LC/MS System saves the time and labor of system reconfiguration that is often necessary if only one HPLC is available. When sample volume for a particular analytical method doesn’t require dedication of all four channels, an individual stream can be dedicated to one method while the other three can be a higher volume assay. This flexibility boosts the lab’s efficiency and use of valuable mass spec time.

Increase laboratory productivity – and new discoveries

Agilent StreamSelect helps Cleveland HeartLab’s mission to increase their ability to identifying biomarkers. “The StreamSelect system can be configured like an open access system,” Bystrom notes. Various streams can run different assays, with different method parameters programmed but being run concurrently.

In addition to increasing efficiency for routine analyses, StreamSelect provides a tool for streamlined method development. Bystrom states, “We’re really lucky to have a StreamSelect System in R&D because it allows us to tackle multiple projects very efficiently.” The system reduces potential inefficiencies that are inherent with a shared instrument. “It’s tough running a clinical research lab. Scientists want their own space. Nobody wants to run an LC/MS for a few days, and then turn it over to someone else to be completely reconfigured. The ability to run multiple LCs into a single MS has worked well for us.”

Like Cleveland HeartLab, many organizations are challenged to maximize revenue from their LC/MS investments in clinical research. If you need greater LC/MS throughput but want to avoid the cost of multiple MS systems, watch this video to discover more about the multiplexed Agilent StreamSelect LC/MS System. Then contact your Agilent Representative for additional information.