Mass Spectrometry & Spectroscopy

The Incredible Impact that Electrospray had on  the Pharmaceutical Industry. ‘A Personal Perspective’

Mar 12 2012

Author: Frank Pullen on behalf of University of Greenwich

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Nowadays within the Pharmaceutical Industry, we consider LC-MS as a routine analytical tool. When referring to LC-MS, terms like Atmospheric Pressure Ionisation, APCI and Electrospray are banded around as if they have been with us since the birth of mass spectrometry. LC-MS is now probably one of the most important analytical techniques used throughout the Drug Discovery and Development process, and it is hard to imagine a time when this was not the case. However, when I started out as a young mass spectrometrist in that industry in the early 1970s, the concept of interfacing liquid chromatography to mass spectrometry was just a ‘wild dream’ and considered by many at that time to be impossible to achieve. Back then, there were a small number of academic groups within the world attempting to marry these two apparently incompatible techniques, but they were seen by many of the mass spectrometry community to be out on the ‘lunatic fringe’. In fact it was one of the early pioneers of direct liquid introduction, Patrick Arpino, who was responsible for the now iconic cartoon shown in Figure 1 which implied that the chances of interfacing liquid chromatography to mass spectrometry was about as likely as the bird marrying the fish and living happily ever after [1].  

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