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Qualitative Analysis of Real Drug Evidence Using DART-MS and the Inverted Library Search Algorithm

NCJ Number
Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry Volume: 33 Issue: 9 Dated: August 25, 2022 Pages: 1784–1793
Edward Sisco; Meghan G. Appley ; Stephen S. Tennyson; Arun S. Moorthy
Date Published
August 2022
10 pages

This paper demonstrates how DART-MS and the ILSA/DIT can be used to analyze seized drug evidence, while discussing insights gathered during the evaluation of 92 adjudicated case samples.


Chromatographic-less mass spectrometry techniques like direct analysis in real-time mass spectrometry (DART-MS) are steadily being employed as seized drug screening tools. However, these newer analytical platforms require new computational methods to best make use of the collected data. The inverted library search algorithm (ILSA) is a recently developed method designed specifically for working with mass spectra of mixtures collected with DART-MS and has been implemented as a function in the NIST/NIJ DART-MS data interpretation tool (DIT). The evaluation verified that the combination of DART-MS and the ILSA/DIT can be used as an informative tool to help analysts screen seized drug evidence but also revealed several factors ─ such as the influence of incorporating multiple in-source fragmentation spectra and the effect of scoring thresholds ─ an analyst must consider while employing these methods. Use cases demonstrating the benefit of the non-scoring metrics provided by the ILSA/DIT and demonstrating how the ILSA/DIT can be used to identify novel substances are also presented. A summary of considerations for using the ILSA/DIT for drug screening concludes this paper. (Published abstract provided)