The purpose of the proposed program is to develop a new noninvasive, field-deployable method using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for detecting and quantifying the metabolites of drugs of abuse in a urine sample, a method useful even after a period of several days post-use. Raman detection of metabolites -- identifying significant structural groups providing the drug's potency rather than overall detailed chemical analysis -- allows for a more flexible monitoring of drug abuse, since such an approach minimizes minor chemical modifications of the ingested drug being capable of confusing the screening process, as can happen with laboratory testing methods which identify only through a precise chemical signature. An ideal detection device is one which is small, portable, and capable of rapid analysis with little or no sample preparation. Recent advances suggest that a device based on surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy has the potential to meet each of these requirements, capable of detecting multiple analytes in a single sample measurement. Identifying spectra can be obtained and processed in a time frame of seconds with no sample preparation required, making cost per test minimal. We expect that a range of metabolites present in a urine sample may be amenable to this approach.
The goal of the proposed program is to develop an updateable device that on a single platform can respond flexibly to a range of drug metabolite features assessing pharmacologic activity quickly and conveniently at the interdiction site to allow appropriate intervention and/or treatment in a timely fashion. This new method of at-site analysis would serve as an especially useful tool to support the delivery of linked drug abuse treatment and primary medical care to underserved individuals in various clinical settings (e.g., mobile medical vans, rural and urban community clinics, correctional facilities), as well as by staff and patients in drug abuse treatment programs, outreach workers, social service workers, and drug advisors in the community.