Editorial Article: Addressing the Challenges for Biologics and Small Molecule Analysis in a Bioanalytical Lab

Alturas Analytics founder Shane Needham discusses the latest mass spectrometry innovations improving productivity and data quality

22 Jul 2015

Dr Shane Needham (center) and his team of scientists at Alturas use a SCIEX MicroLC solution along with SCIEX QTRAP technology


Alturas Analytics is a premier bioanalytical contract research organization (CRO) with international clients in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Kerry Parker, Editor-in-Chief, met with Dr Shane Needham, Co-founder and Laboratory Director of Alturas Analytics, at the 63rd Annual ASMS meeting in St Louis, MO. Dr Needham shared how SCIEX technologies and expertise are helping him to increase his laboratory's productivity, speed up large molecule analysis and deliver better quality data to his pharmaceutical customers.

Quality Support for a Global Market

Producing quality LC-MS-MS data is a service that Alturas Analytics provides for many companies, including seven of the 12 largest pharmaceutical companies worldwide. Since the company was founded in 2000, it has grown steadily, supporting pharmaceutical and biotech companies in developed markets such as Europe, Australia and the United States, as well as developing countries with large numbers of clinical patients, such as in African or South American countries.

We work with seven of the 12 largest pharmaceuticals companies in the world

Dr Shane Needham

Alturas Analytics

As with any CRO, "it's all about the information we can produce," Dr Needham explained, which helps scientists in a clinical setting make decisions on therapeutics. Over recent years, preparation of smaller molecules for analysis has been standardized across the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, improving productivity and "delivering solutions to clients more efficiently".

"We're also trying to do that with large molecules although method development and method validation doesn't really produce data, it's crucial to delivering patient data as effectively as possible.”

Ongoing Collaboration

Alturas Analytics has been "using the latest SCIEX mass spectrometry technologies and working with their research team since 1993," Dr Needham said. In 2011, Alturas and SCIEX collaborated to develop and validate novel workflows based on microflow LC/MS for dried blood spot analysis.

The approaches developed were based on the SCIEX QTRAP® 5500 System and the SCIEX ExpressHT Ultra LC system, enabling scientists to obtain the same or better information than previously possible with traditional sampling techniques, which also required larger sample volumes. 

Improving the limits of detection with micro LC technology gives CROs like us a competitive advantage

Dr Shane Needham

Alturas Analytics

Better Data, More Quickly

"When I worked at Pfizer, we worked on the very first instruments from SCIEX," explained Dr Needham, “and now, at Alturas, we'll be replacing some of our instruments with brand new SCIEX technology."

Currently, his work is focused on the development and validation of assays for the determination of therapeutic agents and biomarkers from biological matrices. With products such as the new SCIEX BioBA solution, from packaged sample prep kits linked with lab automation to advanced LC-MS/MS systems and software, he said, "we have standardization, allowing us to achieve better data, more quickly".

Micro-LC technology, pioneered by SCIEX and used at Alturas, can deliver up to a four times increase in sensitivity and three times increase in throughput, while minimizing sample injection volumes, making the technique ideal for bioanalysis. These improvements "give CROs like us a competitive advantage", revealed Dr Needham.

With the innovation in instrumentation currently being provided by SCIEX, and the needs of CROs to "solve our customers problems more quickly", the partnership between Alturas Analytics and SCIEX won't be going away any time soon. “With lots of SCIEX support, last year, we were ranked as one of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the United States, and, in the end, that's all about improving your productivity to deliver quality data."

For more news from ASMS 2015, click here.