Today, 100 Americans die every day from drug overdose impacting the economy at ~100 billion dollars per
year. This number of deaths is attributed mainly to the introduction of new synthetic opioids like fentanyl and its
analogs. The primary issue with synthetic drugs is that as the parent drug comes under the regulation act, new
analogs will appear on the market to circumvent drug controls. In fact, fentanyl suffers a rapid modification and
it is hard to keep ahead of or even in front of the drug marker to inform medical providers and first responders of
what kind of drugs was ingested. Further, fentanyl and its analogs have been used as a cutting agent to
adulterate drugs (e.g. cocaine, heroin, morphine, and methamphetamine) on the street.
The goal of this project is to develop, optimize and validate a sensor based on molecularly imprinted polymer
(MIP) and magnetic nanoparticles using electrochemical detection for rapid detection of fentanyl analogs’
metabolites. By developing this MIP magnetic sensor, we aim to provide medical providers and first responders
with an inexpensive and accurate manner to identify these metabolites on-site. Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs
will metabolize to a very few known metabolites with a very similar core structure. Thus, we hypothesize that
identification and recognition of this core structure could aid in the detection of existing and new
fentanyl analogs. Therefore, the goal of this proposal is to develop a MIP magnetic nanoparticle sensor that
recognizes fentanyl analog metabolites with high sensitivity and selectivity. The high sensitivity will be possible
by using MIP magnetic nanoparticles allowing pre-concentration of the analyte on the electrode surface. The
high selectivity will be possible by using MIP, which will form a unique cavity for the recognition of the core
structure of the chosen metabolite.
To accomplish this goal, we will i) develop, optimize and characterize a MIP magnetic-sensor for the detection
of fentanyl analog’ metabolites; and ii) apply the MIP magnetic-sensor for detection of fentanyl analogs’
metabolites in urine samples and compare with reference methods (GC/MS).
The proposed research will produce a new sensor technology for analysis of any fentanyl analogs’
metabolites with the capability to differentiate these powerful drugs from other opioids in urine samples. The
resulting sensor is expected to be used in decentralized locations by first responders, clinical laboratories, and