This paper summarizes a research project aimed at developing and validating two fully automated sample preparation techniques for the qualitative analysis of whole blood and additional biological matrices in accordance with the guidelines put forth by the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Toxicology.
In this research summary, the author presents the exploration of the main research question which involved the applicability of implementing a comprehensive high resolution mass spectrometry screen for biological matrices in both antemortem and postmortem specimens. The author also explores whether the method provides a more efficient screening protocol, if it provides more specificity regarding compounds present within a sample when compared to traditional screening techniques, and whether the method provides a more cost-effective approach to comprehensive screening in toxicology. The research project was expected to develop a comprehensive, high resolution mass spectrometry screen for biological matrices within forensic toxicology, where the implementation of such a method would significantly impact the forensic science community’s ability to have a more efficient, comprehensive, and streamlined process for screening specimens. The author reports being able to successfully develop an automated sample preparation technique that met the goals of the research project. Problems encountered during the project included the following: missing peaks that are not integrated with “no data” return; missing peaks and large mass errors in matrix samples; and significant ionization enhancement in neat and matrix samples. All problems were corrected, and the author provides detailed explanations for the methodology and efforts taken during the project as well as a discussion of research limitations.