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Fields & Applications Mass Spectrometry, Genomics & DNA Analysis, Metabolomics & Lipidomics

Spot On

Collecting drops of blood from the heels of newborn babies and depositing them on specially prepared Guthrie cards, where they dry, is an established form of sampling. Analysis of the DBS extract has been used for decades as a method to screen newborns for the occurrence of specified diseases (see  “Dried Blood Spot 101”). 

Early DBS screening tests only needed to demonstrate the presence or absence of certain traits and were consequently qualitative in nature. However, in the past few years, improvements in the sensitivity of analytical instruments, especially mass spectrometers, have resulted in the drive to exploit the potential to quantify components extracted from dried blood spots, which in turn has unearthed significant challenges (see “Confronting Concerns”).

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About the Authors

Sangeeta Tanna

Sangeeta Tanna holds a PhD in pharmaceutics in the development of an artificial pancreas. Her expertise and research interests lie in the bioanalysis and drug delivery fields. This has led to the development of micro-analytical methodologies for the determination of therapeutic drugs from dried blood spots (DBS) based on LC-MS and LC-MS/MS studies for a range of clinical applications. This research was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Methods Prize in 2010. Applications of this work to patient care include improved medication for babies and people with cardiovascular diseases.


Graham Lawson

Graham Lawson’s expertise is instrumental analysis in such disparate areas as environmental exposure in the polymer industry, the identification of migrants from food packaging and factors influencing drug delivery in clinical applications. The unifying themes are the detection of ultra low levels of contamination and the protection of people from adverse exposures. He was co-opted onto a NATO special studies group on the Stand-off detection of radiation. His current research interests include novel analytical techniques applied to blood spot analyses and to counterfeit drug detection.

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