SWATH Acquisition: A Step Closer to Unravelling the Opioid Puzzle

Mar 2, 2018 | Blogs, Forensic | 0 comments

Drug overdose has become one of the leading causes of death of Americans under 50. If that’s not bad enough, let’s put this into perspective. 

America makes up only 4% of the world population. In 2015, it recorded 52,400 drug-related deaths, which is about 27% of the world’s drug overdose fatalities. That ballooned to 64,000 deaths in 2016. The only other comparable outbreak that hit the US this rampant was the HIV epidemic in the late 1980s.

The culprit: fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. These powerful drugs boost the body’s feel-good hormone; dopamine; which results in an intense feeling of prolonged euphoria. With frequent use, the brain becomes conditioned and craves more drugs to sustain the same level of feeling.

It’s that reason; these drugs are very addictive and responsible year-on-year spikes in overdose-related deaths.

A Forensic Fathom
A more significant concern of this scientific puzzle is the emergence of synthetic opioids.

One of the most common fentanyl is between 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Then there are other analogs such as carfentanil, used as tranquilizers for large animals like elephants or obscure names like furanylfentanyl or ohmefentanyl or U-47700.  These substances can be 10,000 times stronger and so powerful that as little as a few grains of salt could kill an adult human!

Whether it’s cooked up by manufacturers or kitchen labs in the US, these substances tend to be laced with chemicals that most drug screens aren’t designed to identify. Often the slightly altered chemical structures whether to increase potency or narrowly evade regulations, it could go under the radar of many drug screens.

The constant alteration has left many public health workers, police and even users baffled. Forget an accurate ingredient list when these substances are likely illegally obtained, making clear identification almost impossible.

As such,  forensic investigators are challenged to unravel a mystery; not knowing what they’re up against.

The Power of SWATH® Acquisition
Thus, fast, accurate laboratory testing is even more crucial to detect opioid intoxication today than before.

That’s precisely what SWATH Acquisition is for! Reduce the risk of missing critical compounds samples, through comprehensive data acquisition strategy that yield high detection sensitivity and drug specificity crucial to forensic investigators.

In this technical note, the use of SWATH Acquisition for the ultra-fast and accurate identification of novel synthetic opioids present in different seized drug samples was evaluated, and compared to typical GC-MS analysis.

Let SWATH Acquisition lead the way to reliable, comprehensive synthetic opioid characterization.

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