Login to South West London Pathology Services

If you have any queries about pathology consumables – you need a new account or you have a query about your order, please telephone 020 8266 6827. Forgotten your password

Mass spectrometry comes to SWLP

SWLP is now able to carry out its first tests using mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique that accurately measures the mass of different molecules within a sample. It works by vapourising the molecules in a sample, which are then bombarded by nitrogen gas in an electric field, converting the vapours into ions. Any of the vapour that doesn’t ionise goes to waste, which significantly reduces any interference in the results. The sample then enters into the mass spectrometer and is then fragmented and fragmented again to generate a unique fingerprint for each compound.

SWLP has begun testing for steroids on the Waters Xevo TQ-S mass spectrometer, which is among the most sensitive available. The machine can test up to 960 samples in a single run, and can test for a number of different steroids using just one 100µl sample. More assay types are planned for the mass spectrometer in the near future.

There are a number of benefits of using mass spectrometry. Unlike other types of assay, there is no cross-reactivity, resulting in less interference and a true result. Very small samples can be used to test for multiple compounds, which means only one sample needs to be taken from the patient and results are available quickly. In some cases, blood can be taken at clinic and the result can be available the next day when the clinical report is being written.

Mass spectrometry also offers significant cost savings compared to conventional assays. Take as an example testing for steroids. Previously a separate test had to be carried out using a specific kit for each steroid. The multiplexing capability of mass spectrometry now requires a single reagent system.

Tony Dedman, who is in charge of mass spectrometry at SWLP, says, “Mass spectrometry is the future of pathology. It is perfect for large simultaneous screens and you can always be confident that the results you get are true results.”

Chemistry Technical Lead Tony Dedman with the mass spectrometer

Latest news

July 15, 2021

A day in the life… Diana Mohanaraja

Find out more about a day in the life of Biomedical Support Worker and soon to be Biomedical Scientist Diana Mohanaraja.

Read more
June 2, 2021

A new study shows that previous Covid-19 infection protects against reinfection even without antibodies

A new study carried out using existing laboratory test data shows that people who had a positive PCR test for Covid-19 but a negative serology test, meaning that they did not produce detectable antibodies, still had a significant amount of protection from reinfection.

Read more
May 10, 2021

Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and South West London Pathology announce new pathology partnership

Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust and South West London Pathology are announcing the formation of a new pathology partnership for south west London and beyond.

Read more
April 6, 2021

SWLP says a sad farewell to virologist Dr David Carrington

The end of March marked the retirement of St George’s Hospital Virologist Dr David Carrington.

Read more