SANIST: optimization of a technology for compound identification based on the European Union directive with applications in forensic, pharmaceutical and food analyses

J Mass Spectrom. 2017 Jan;52(1):16-21. doi: 10.1002/jms.3895.


Electrospray Ionization and collision induced dissociation tandem mass spectrometry are usually employed to obtain compound identification through a mass spectra match. Different algorithms have been developed for this purpose (for example the nist match algorithm). These approaches compare the tandem mass spectra of the unknown analyte with the tandem mass spectra spectra of known compounds inserted in a database. The compounds are usually identified on the basis of spectral match value associated with a probability of recognition. However, this approach is not usually applied to multiple reaction monitoring transition spectra achieved by means of triple quadrupole apparatus, mainly due to the lack of a transition spectra database. The Surface Activated Chemical Ionization-Electrospray-NIST Bayesian model database search (SANIST) platform has been recently developed for new potential metabolite biomarker discovery, to confirm their identity and to use them for clinical and diagnostic applications. Here, we present an improved version of the SANIST platform that extends its application to forensic, pharmaceutical, and food analysis studies, where the compound identification rules are strict. The European Union (EU) has set directives for compound identification (EU directive 2002/657/EC). We have applied the SANIST method to identification of 11-nor-9-carboxytetrahydro-cannabinol in urine samples (an example of a forensic application), circulating levels of the immunosuppressive drug tacrolimus in blood (an example of a pharmaceutical application) and glyphosate in fruit juice (an example of a food analysis application) that meet the EU directive requirements. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: EU law; algorithm; bioinformatic; compounds identification; database search.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Databases, Factual
  • European Union
  • Food Analysis
  • Forensic Sciences
  • Humans
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / instrumentation*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Biomarkers