Letter to the Editor: Response to: Commentary on the history and quantitative nature of filter paper used in blood collection devices

“Does the use of DBS for regulated bioanalytical chemistry in pharmaceutical research bring something new of real value or is this just an interesting alternative to conventional liquid samples?”

My commentary on DBS elicited a huge number of private responses, not one of which focused on newborn screening. Thanks to Victor De Jesus and Donald H Chace for providing a useful review on this topic, with which I fully admit to having no practical experience. Furthermore, I have heard nothing but good things about this well-established screening approach to diagnosing a number of genetic polymorphisms (‘inborn errors of metabolism’) in neonates. Many millions of samples are processed each year. This well-established application is only peripherally related to the question being debated in my Commentary. There are a number of challenges in our use of language. For example, the term ‘bioanalytical’ means quite a different thing in the CRO world to what it means in an academic biochemistry department. ‘Clinical chemistry’ and ‘laboratory medicine’ are other terms that work in one environment, but less well in others. ‘Quantitative’ is yet another informal term when used without specification of accuracy and precision.

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