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HSL Biochemistry specialities

SAS steroid Biochemistry

The Biochemistry department is an established Supra- Regional Assay Service laboratory for urine steroid profiling, receiving samples from both national and international laboratories, and provides a full interpretative and advisory service. In addition, the specialist section provides serum steroid measurements and interpretative guidance. In close collaboration with the MCA laboratory, Queen Beatrix Hospital, Netherlands we operate a urine steroid profiling EQA scheme, with participants from around the world.

The service uses both gas and liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry for the measurement of steroids.

Assays available:

  • Urine steroid profiling
  • 17-hydroxyprogesterone
  • Androstenedione


Francis Lam
020 3908 1365

SAS Centre for Cardiac Biomarkers

The network of SAS centers for cardiovascular biomarkers was set up in response to an increasing demand for tests, other than routine lipid profiles, to aid in the assessment of patients with inherited hyperlipidaemia and increased cardiovascular risk.

The Department has a long-standing interest in the management of lipid disorders, with special interests in familial hypercholesterolaemia, anti-retroviral drug-induced hyperlipidaemia, and cardiovascular risk factors in South Asians. In collaboration with the Genetic Knowledge Park, the Centre participated in a project comparing DNA testing with traditional diagnostic methods for FH, funded by the Department of Health.

The Centre is supported by a well-developed clinical infrastructure for lipid disorders, providing the interpretative and advisory service. There are several research and development activities including clinical trials with newer lipid lowering drugs, that the section is involved working with collaborators within the partner Trusts and external organisations, nationally and internationally.

Assays available:

  • Apolipoprotein A1
  • Apolipoprotein B
  • Apolipoprotein E polymorphisms
  • ApoE genotype
  • Beta – Quantification (Ultracentrifugation)
  • Floating beta test
  • Lipid electrophoresis
  • Homocysteine
  • LDL (Calculated and Direct)
  • Lipoprotein (a)

Research only

  • HsCRP

Small dense LDL

  • Apolipoprotein CII
  • Apolipoprotein CIII
  • Adipokines
  • Cytokines – Metabolic and Advanced


Dr Devaki Nair, Director of SAS
020 7472 6694


The Proteins service covers a broad repertoire of investigations, including those for haematological (protein electrophoresis, immunofixation, serum free light chains, cryoglobulins and erythropoietin) and hepatic (enhanced liver fibrosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin phenotype) disorders, in addition to isoenzyme typing (alkaline phosphatase, creatine kinase). The service supports and has a close collaborative relationship with the National Amyloidosis Centre located at The Royal Free Hospital site.


Simon Salter
020 3908 1360

Calculi and Urology

The calculi service provides an established investigative and interpretative service for the analysis of stones and associated metabolites (citrate, oxalate, cystine/ homocystine screen), including the biochemical evaluation for primary hyperoxalurias (glycolate, glycerate, 2,4-dihydroxyglutarate). The specialist techniques used include Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, and liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. In addition, we provide enzyme activity and immunoreactivity assays (alanine:glyoxylate aminotransferase, glyoxylate reductase) on liver biopsies for the investigation of primary hyperoxalurias. Samples are received from both national and international sources.


Robin Pryke
020 3908 1354

Mass Spectrometry and Chromatography

The service provides a diverse repertoire of assays, including neuroendocrine tumour markers (plasma/urine metanephrines and urine 5HIAA) and metals (copper, zinc selenium, chromium and cobalt by ICPMS).

A 7-day immunosuppressant TDM (ciclosporin A, tacrolimus, sirolimus) service is provided by the section for transplant services. In addition, the section provides analytical support for the other specialties such as steroids and urology.


Emma Woolman
020 3908 1364