Nanomechanical detection of methamphetamines and designer drugs
The widespread use of methamphetamines and related designer drugs is a major challenge for our society, with significant impact on health and social security.
In the journal Angewandte Chemie, Italian researchers have now introduced a new method of detection that allows the entire class of methamphetamine drugs to be detected in water. A probe equipped with synthetic receptor molecules responds to a grouping of atoms that is present in all methamphetamines. The chemical variations of the different designer drugs have no effect.
A large variety of analytical methods for the detection of methamphetamines have been developed, most of which are slow to yield results or require complicated operations such as labor-intensive sample preparation. The identification of designer drugs presents a further challenge.
These compounds are based on an existing drug whose chemical structure has been slightly altered. Although the effect of the drug is not changed by these modifications, they do cause serious problems for current detection methods, which are optimized for the identification of specific substances and usually cannot recognize related drugs with a different structure. The demand for a sensitive, selective method for the rapid detection of methamphetamines and designer drugs in the field is correspondingly high.
Scientists from the Universities of Parma, Brescia, and Catania have now successfully met this challenge. Their new method is based on molecular recognition and a nanomechanical detector. The team led by Paolo Bergese and Enrico Dalcanale grafted concave molecules called cavitands to a cantilever made of silicon.
Such cantilevers are used as probes for atomic force microscopes. An array of such grafted cantilevers is used to probe the surface of an aqueous sample. If a cavitand comes into contact with a methamphetamine molecule, the molecule is bound. This molecular recognition is transformed into a mechanical response, which is converted into a deflection of the cantilever.
The cavitands were designed so that a single molecule reliably “recognizes” the methylamino group common to all methamphetamine-based drugs by way of a synergistic set of weak interactions. The chemical variations inherent in designer drugs do not interfere with the recognition by the synthetic receptor.
Other substances typically mixed with the drug, usually glucose or lactose, do not disturb the detection either. The researchers were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of their technique with a variety of methamphetamine-based substances as well as real samples from the street.
About the Author
Dr Enrico Dalcanale is Associate Professor of Industrial Chemistry at University of Parma and Scientific Director of the functional materials section of INSTM (Italian Interuniversity Consortium of Materials Science and Technology, www.instm.it). His expertise is supramolecular chemistry applied to materials science, with main focus on sensing and responsive polymeric materials.
Author: Enrico Dalcanale, Università degli Studi di Parma (Italy), http://www.dalcanalegroup.it/enricos-cv/
Title: Cavitand-Grafted Silicon Microcantilevers as a Universal Probe for Illicit and Designer Drugs in Water
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201404774
Enrico Dalcanale | Angewandte Chemie
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
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...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine