Novel colorimetric method for the detection of illicit substances and drugs of abuse
Updated on 17 March 2021
Improved selective, ultrasensitive, fast and safe colour-based spot tests for on-site and point of seizure drugs-detection
- Novel biosensing system for detection of amphetamine-type stimulants
- Generates an active catalytic-based colorimetric response giving a coloured result
- Intensity of colour change is proportional to the concentration of drug under test
- Safe, rapid, ultrasensitive and selective testing
Researchers at the University of Dundee have developed a selective and rapid hybrid nanozyme, a novel hybrid nanomaterials-based enzyme mimic, as a catalyst-induced colorimetric detection method for amphetamine-type stimulants. There is significant market interest in the development of improved selective, ultrasensitive, fast and safe colour-based spot tests for on-site and point of seizure drugs-detection and our research in this area has progressed in the field of nanotechnology-based biosensor development.
The production, consumption and commercialisation of illicit substances remains a serious concern in most countries. Forensic laboratories can identify controlled drugs, but in the increasingly complex illicit drug market, where large numbers of new psychoactive substances are always emerging, the search for more robust detection, identification and quantification methods for substances of forensic interest has placed a burden on scientists to develop new analytical tools and methods to meet the ever-increasing demand. The outcome of investigative legal cases relating to the possession of illicit drugs is heavily dependent on test results proving the case scientifically beyond any doubt. Colorimetric-based testing is currently the quickest method for drug detection and determination of the class of substance, but currently, the underlying chemistry can be speculative, unknown or lack sensitivity and such tests are increasingly being challenged in terms of specificity as new drugs of abuse emerge onto the illicit market.
Our researchers have developed a selective and rapid hybrid nanozyme, a novel hybrid nanomaterials-based enzyme mimic, as a catalyst-induced colorimetric detection method for amphetamine-type stimulants. The nanozyme comprises of cationic gold nanoparticles, water soluble graphene oxide and hemin (an iron-containing porphyrin complex) and is used as a peroxide-mimic enzyme which binds to a nucleic acid aptomer and forms a colorimetric biosensor system which reacts with a substrate and an oxidising agent to generate a coloured product. The intensity of the resultant colour change is proportional to concentration of the amphetamine drug samples under scrutiny.
The University filed an international patent application number PCT/GB2019/052147 on the 31 July 2019.
The University is seeking a commercial partner for this technology and contact is welcomed from organisations interested in developing, licensing or exploiting this opportunity.
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