CAMAG DBS-MS 500 – Online extraction system for MS and LC-MS or Sample Collector coupling

The fully automated DBS-MS 500 from CAMAG is state of the art technology to analyze DBS. The DBS are directly eluted in a designed extraction chamber and guided online to an analysis system. Sample processing is automated, including the application of an internal standard through a high precision sprayer and barcode assignment. In addition to the analysis results, a picture of each DBS card before and after extraction and the run parameters are reported to maintain high traceability and quality


Key features:

  • High throughput analysis of up to 500 DBS cards per run
  • Integrated optical card recognition and barcode reading module
  • Automated internal standard application module
  • Unique extraction module with wash station to eliminate carry-over
  • Online coupling to analysis system (LC-MS, MS or Sample Collector)
  • Full control through Chronos software

The fully automated CAMAG DBS-MS extraction system makes DBS analysis remarkably easy and has strong advantages compared to both the manual and semi-automated punching techniques. With the CAMAG DBS-MS 500 extraction procedure DBS analysis is an economical alternative to conventional blood sampling. It represents a time- and cost-saving technique for analyzing pharmacological samples and is less invasive for participants or animals.

1) Robotics

Highly reliable robotics handles the DBS cards from 5 separate racks, each with a capacity of 100 cards. The gripping tool picks up cards and moves them to all of the subsequent processes in the corresponding modules and back into their original position after the extraction. All DBS cards in the standard format of 84.67 mm × 53.2 mm can be used, independent of the brand.

2) Optical card recognition

The spot number and position, checkbox status, and barcode information are determined by a camera module with integrated firmware and adapted sensors. The connection between a DBS and its barcode is ensured throughout the whole process. CAMAG has incorporated its know-how of more than a decade of optical HPTLC image analysis to build this precise and reliable camera module.

3) Internal standard application

The extraction efficiency and analysis quality is ensured via the application of an internal standard prior to the extraction. The internal standard solution is applied with a high a precision sprayer onto the DBS. CAMAG has been manufacturing high precision application instruments for HPTLC for a long time and has used this experience to build this module.

4) Extraction Module

The extraction unit seals the DBS card and solvent is guided horizontally through the DBS into a sample loop. The loop volume can be of various sizes and configurations according to the application. The extract is guided online to the analysis system and is independent from the extraction solvent cycle.

5) Wash Station

A designated wash station cleans all parts that are in contact with the DBS cards and additionally flushes the entire tubing to avoid any carry-over. Using this system, independent user tests confirm that carry-over is not an issue.

6) Master Control Software Chronos

Chronos is a sophisticated master software that manages your analytical system in addition to controlling the DBS-MS 500. Sample lists are programmed in Chronos, where sample processing, extraction and analysis parameters are brought together. Chronos is compatible with the majority of common mass spectrometers and allows data exchange between those programs.

Overlapped schedule for 10 samples and system initialization
Overlapped schedule for 10 samples and system initialization

Optimization for high throughput

An overlap of workflows is Chronos’ core feature. The software measures the time for each work step in real-time and adapts the sample schedule accordingly even while an analysis is still ongoing. This enables the DBS-MS 500 to prepare the next sample in time and therefore avoid delays due to idle time. As a result Chronos increases the active measuring time of the devices and considerably raises the efficiency of the laboratory.

Visualization of process steps
Visualization of process steps

Real-time analysis monitoring

The sample schedule is visualized in a chart which can be monitored in real-time.
A) Transport the DBS card
B) Optical card recognition
C) Application of internal standard
D) Extraction
E) Rinsing the extraction unit
F) Estimated LC-MS cycle time

Sample list editor with smart auto-fill options for fast schedule creation
Sample list editor with smart auto-fill options for fast schedule creation

Robustness and repeatability

The user can create methods with almost no limitations on parameter options. Sample lists can be generated fast and adapted to individual needs for the standard user. Robustness and reproducibility is thus ensured through software controlled automation of the complete analysis.


Chronos not only controls your analytical system, it also reports a 2D barcode, the run parameters of your analytical system and pictures of each DBS card. The 2D barcode automatically assigned to each DBS simplifies handling and avoids errors which might be caused by manual working steps. Thus Chronos ensures traceability of every sample supporting a good documentation practice.

Dimensions  Size: 110 × 80 × 60 cm (w × d × h); net weight 120 kg
Additional space of 10 cm for ventilation and height of 30 cm for solvent bottle placement required
Requirements Pressurized air of 4 to 8 bar
Line voltage 100 – 240 V, 50 / 60 Hz, 100 W
User interface Touch screen display for selecting and editing methods and setting parameters
Communication with LC-MS Contact closure, optional Ethernet communication
Tube connections to LC-MS 1/16” high pressure valve, 10 – 32 coned ports (UPLC valve on request)
050.0500 DBS-MS 500
Fully automated DBS workstation for 500 DBS cards.
Including wash station, optical card recognition unit and internal standard  spraying module.
Master slave control unit.
Chronos software to control the extraction and analysis.

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Stefan Gaugler, Jana Rykl, Vicente L. Cebolla

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U. Duthaler, B. Berger, S. Erb, M. Battegay, E. Letang, S. Gaugler, S. Krähenbühl and M. Haschke

Fully automated drug screening of dried blood spots using online LC-MS/MS analysis
Stefan Gaugler, Jana Rykl, Matthias Grill, Vicente Luis Cebolla

Automated high-capacity on-line extraction and bioanalysis of dried blood spot samples using liquid chromatography/high-resolution accurate mass spectrometry
Regina V. Oliveira, Jack Henion and Enaksha R. Wickremsinhe

First experience with a fully automated extraction system for simultaneous on-line direct tandem mass spectrometric analysis of amino acids and (acyl-)carnitines in a newborn screening setting
Ralph Fingerhut, Maria Lucia Silva Polanco, Gabriel De Jesus Silva Arevalo and Magdalena A. Swiderska

Internal standard application to dried blood spots by spraying: investigation of the internal standard distribution
Dieter Zimmer, Stephan Hassler, Beatrice Betschart, Stephan Sack, Christoph Fankhauser, Matthias Loppacher