The paper analytical device (PAD) is the size of a business card and offers results in less than five minutes. It’s technology that could ferret out other fake drugs that promise cures for everything from malaria to the flu. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a serious problem in developing countries. The College has applied for a U.S. patent for the PAD and the patent is pending. It’s the first time Saint Mary’s has applied for a patent.
Undergraduate researchers at this Catholic, liberal arts women’s college modified existing paper-strip technology to develop PADs that screen for substandard tablets of Panadol. Panadol is one of multiple brand names used abroad for the pain and fever reliever acetaminophen. The Saint Mary’s research team led the Panadol project with researchers at the University of Notre Dame.
“Panadol long has been among the most common, standard pain relieving drugs counterfeited around the world,” said Saint Mary’s chemistry professor Toni Barstis who led the team. “In the past, you could just look at the labeling and packaging and know if it was counterfeit. Now, they do such a good job with the package design it’s hard to determine whether it’s a package of the genuine medicine or a fake that contains no acetaminophen or even ingredients that may be harmful.”
Barstis and two members of her team—a Saint Mary’s chemistry student and a recent alumna—presented their research results upon invitation in Philadelphia at the 244th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on August 19. ACS is the world’s largest scientific society. Click to see video of ACS press conference.
The tool that Barstis’ team developed uses a chemically treated paper that resembles a business card. To check for counterfeit ingredients, a person simply swipes the pill onto the PAD and dips the PAD in water. Color changes on the paper indicate both suspicious and authentic ingredients. The screening takes less than five minutes and can be done by consumers. This lies in stark contrast to high-tech analytical methods, which are expensive and time-consuming. For instance, instrumental testing of pharmaceuticals in labs in Kenya can take 3-6 months. Precious time can be lost as a patient waits for treatment.
Barstis said the counterfeit acetaminophen products are just the tip of the iceberg. Other fake pharmaceuticals are marketed as cures for infections, malaria, and the flu. Some contain acetaminophen, which reduces pain and fever, but do not contain the active ingredient to combat these diseases. Because the Panadol PAD checks for the presence of acetaminophen, it can be modified to screen the other drugs. Barstis’ team—in collaboration with chemistry, biochemistry, computer science, and industrial design teams at the University of Notre Dame—is developing similar tools to identify counterfeit antibiotics, anti-malaria drugs, and Tamiflu, the influenza medication.
The World Health Organization estimates that 10-30 percent of the drug supply in developing countries consists of counterfeit medicines, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Problems have been documented, for instance, in Kenya, Nigeria, India, Vietnam, and Panama. Officials blame crime rings, which profit from selling pills that contain plaster of Paris, baking soda, or other inexpensive ingredients.
Presenting with Barstis at the ACS meeting were Elizabeth Bajema ’11, the PADs project professional specialist, and student researcher Diana Vega Pantoja ’13. Bajema, who graduated from Saint Mary’s in 2011, delayed graduate chemistry studies at Northwestern University to continue her work on the PADs project, this time as a College employee. Pantoja is a dual-degree engineering student working towards a degree in chemistry from Saint Mary’s and a chemical engineering degree from the University of Notre Dame. She’s glad to be part of the PADs project and calls Barstis a mentor.
“I can’t imagine a more supportive, energetic, and demanding mentor than Doctor Barstis,” said Pantoja, a dual degree student who is also earning an engineering degree at Notre Dame. “She believes in us and pushes us to achieve our highest potential. She is passionate about getting women interested in science in general, not only chemistry.”
About the American Chemical Society: The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, women’s institution offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study. Saint Mary’s College has six nationally accredited academic programs: social work, art, music, teacher education, chemistry and nursing. Saint Mary's College ranks among the top 100 “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” for 2012 published by U.S.News and World Report. Founded in 1844, Saint Mary’s is a pioneer in the education of women, and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.
Raw video interviews and photos are available for download from http://our.saintmarys.edu/~gobrien/PADs_project/Contact Info:
Gwen McKillip O’Brien | Newswise Science News
What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering