Novel method to identify illegal drugs, faster and with greater accuracy

November 16, 2016, Boston University Medical Center

For the identification of illicit drugs in forensic toxicological casework, analysis can be delayed and potentially compromised due to lengthy sample preparation. However a new technique has been developed that can provide high sensitivity and fast results.

This new development, which is described in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, will impact how resources are utilized and how quickly results are conveyed to law enforcement.

In recent years, the abuse of prescription drugs, designer opioids and novel psychoactive substances has steadily increased. Preliminary testing techniques such as immunoassay are perhaps the most utilized in forensic analysis for rapid results with minimalsample preparation. However, to achieve satisfactory results with trace level detection, extensive and time-consuming sample preparation protocols may be required.

For a complete forensic identification, most forensic laboratories use single-dimensional chromatography techniques such as liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC/MS or LC/MS-MS). However in this study, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) used multi-dimensional chromatography combined with a micro-extraction technique for identifying illegal drugs in urine samples in fewer than 20 minutes.

"Through this study, we have shown that the optimized 2D methodology can provide higher sensitivity and faster results," explained corresponding author Sabra Botch-Jones, MS, MA, D-ABFT, forensic toxicologist and instructor in the Biomedical Forensic Sciences program in the department of anatomy and neurobiology at BUSM.

Botch-Jones believes with this , toxicology laboratories will benefit from rapid analysis with minimal sample preparation and lead to more efficient workflow and identification of a greater variety of drugs.

This research was performed in collaboration with Dr. Claude Mallet at Waters Corporation and the use of their instrumentation.

Explore further: Novel method to identify illicit designer drugs developed

Related Stories

Splitting hairs to advance forensic science

September 20, 2016

With initial help from his work at a Utah university , an Australian-born biochemist is partnering with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to discover a second science-based forensic tool for identifying people ...

Evidence of drug use detectable in hair for months

June 28, 2016

With new analytical techniques, evidence of drug use remains detectable in hair for months. This is the conclusion of the PhD thesis 'Improved forensic hair evidence for drugs of abuse by mass spectrometry' by Wilco Duvivier. ...

Study to develop new forensic methods for human DNA cases

February 4, 2016

Sam Houston State University (SHSU) was awarded a grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to develop and test the best possible sample preparation methods for skeletal and decomposing human remains using emerging ...

Recommended for you

Detecting metabolites at close range

June 22, 2018

A novel concept for a biosensor of the metabolite lactate combines an electron transporting polymer with lactate oxidase, which is the enzyme that specifically catalyzes the oxidation of lactate. Lactate is associated with ...

Research team uncovers lost images from the 19th century

June 22, 2018

Art curators will be able to recover images on daguerreotypes, the earliest form of photography that used silver plates, after a team of scientists led by Western University learned how to use light to see through degradation ...

CryoEM study captures opioid signaling in the act

June 22, 2018

Opioid drugs like morphine and fentanyl are a mainstay of modern pain medicine. But they also cause constipation, are highly addictive, and can lead to fatal respiratory failure if taken at too high a dose. Scientists have ...

Researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids

June 21, 2018

Synthetic polymers are ubiquitous—nylon, polyester, Teflon and epoxy, to name just a few—and these polymers are all long, linear structures that tangle into imprecise structures. Chemists have long dreamed of making polymers ...

Template to create superatoms could make for better batteries

June 21, 2018

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have discovered a novel strategy for creating superatoms—combinations of atoms that can mimic the properties of more than one group of elements of the periodic table. These superatoms ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.