HPLC, short for high-performance liquid chromatography, is a method of separating a mixture of compounds. HPLC offers a unique advantage, producing highly accurate identification, quantification, and purification of a certain compound or analyte. This allows professionals to perform analysis and determine specific results from the sample’s components and identify the exact substances within a mixture.
During the HPLC process, in the stationary phase, a mixture in mobile phase moves through a column at a velocity determined by the nature of the particular chemical, the mobile phase composition, and the type of column. The length of time it takes the components (or analytes) to emerge from the column is the retention time, which provides the information necessary to classify an analyte.
There are many different types of HPLC, including denaturing, immobilized enzyme reactor, reversed-phase HPLC, and more. If you’re considering a career in the pharmaceutical industry or a related field, you’ll see the benefits offered by HPLC can be applied in a number of areas. Below, discover a few ways that HPLC can be applied.
The most common application of HPLC is in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. If you’re enrolled in pharmaceutical school, it’s likely that you’ll be working with HPLC in the future as a tool for measuring the purity of pharmaceutical products. HPLC allows for:
- Highly accurate and specific analysis of drugs
- Verification of compliance with industry standards
- Detailed comparison of products manufactured in large quantities
- Minimization of loss, preventing expensive treatments from being wasted
HPLC can be utilized both in the analysis of a finalized treatment, as well as in the manufacturing stage, testing products to be used within a drug. During your career in the pharmaceutical industry, you’re likely to see HPLC employed in certain situations in order to enhance accuracy and efficiency.
In addition to being used to perform pharmaceutical quality assurance, HPLC technology can be applied within the field of medical research and used to further explore certain conditions. This works by:
- Taking biological samples from patients with specified conditions, such as diabetes
- Conducting HPLC analysis to identify certain metabolites in samples
- Using metabolites as biomarkers (measurable substance which stipulates the presence of the condition)
- Using the biomarkers to make further diagnosis attempts more effective
Thanks to the accuracy provided by HPLC technology, the biomarkers produced are often more effective, leading to better research in the field.
The separation that HPLC yields also offers plenty of advantages for the field of medical diagnosis. In more complex diseases such as muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s, HPLC has the potential to provide a strong indication of their existence, comparing and separating molecules more accurately. HPLC can also be used to identify:
- Nutrient or vitamin deficiencies, thanks to the accurate analysis it provides
- Signs of a concussion, by assessing plasma metabolites
- And more
With the benefits that HPLC offers for diagnosis, it’s becoming increasingly adapted in the diagnostic field.
HPLC can also be used for legal work, corroborating or disproving cases where drug use may be involved by performing drug tests in urine. HPLC can be used to detect:
- Drug agents
- Conjugates and metabolites (produced by a drug reaction)
- Various drugs, including opioids, cannabis and more
The results of HPLC analysis are used as evidence in charges drawn up by police, making the practice useful in the legal world.
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