Dec 1, 2006
Incidences of poisoning and drugs overdoses are common in hospital emergency rooms the world over. But, one thing medical staff lack to deal with such cases is a quick and easy way to identify the particular poison.
For an initial diagnosis, they usually rely on circumstantial evidence provided by anyone accompanying the patient or the victims themselves. Laboratory tests on saliva, urine, or blood samples can be long winded and often the definitive identification of the poison is possible only post mortem, which is obviously too late for the victim.
A dip-test for illicit drugs and poisons that is as quick and easy as a home pregnancy test-kit could save many lives according to US researchers. The team used UV-Vis spectroscopy to verify the performance of a proof of principle test on cocaine.
“Based on this principle, we should be able to develop rapid tests for the emergency diagnosis of a large number of drugs and poisons,” says Yi Lu of the University of Illinois in Urbana. The same approach could also be used to test for physiological molecules and environmental monitoring, he adds.
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In vaguely related news, it has been reported that street cocaine is now more dangerous than ever before as it is allegedly being cut with a cancer-causing chemical. That’s according to the UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which reports that there has been an increase in the use of “bulking” additives that resemble cocaine but don’t cut into drug dealer and supplier’s profits. The current scare surrounds the painkiller Phenacetin .
According to the current reports, phenacetin was originally banned from general use in 1968 because of a link to bladder and kidney cancer. The ban was later lifted, but doubts about its safety remain, hence the scare-mongering headlines from the BBC et al containing the phrase “cancer chemical”.
However, a little digging on PubChem reveals that this compound was actually banned because this non-prostaglandin synthase inhibitor was used as a drug of abuse and led to nephropathy in users –