Search
Close this search box.

We are creating some awesome events for you. Kindly bear with us.

NMR Tech Revolutionising Drug Analysis

Image credits: canterbury.ac.nz

Professor Daniel Holland and his team from the University of Canterbury’s Chemical and Process Engineering Department are enhancing a method known as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). They aim to use this technique to measure illicit drug content and concentration more efficiently and precisely.

According to Professor Holland, most drug harm arises from individuals consuming substances with unknown concentrations. He believes that the novel NMR analysis approach will enable rapid, accurate, and easily accessible drug testing, thereby addressing this issue effectively.

Professor Holland states that such measurements would aid law enforcement and healthcare organisations in monitoring the availability of substances on the streets and determining their precise concentrations. It would contribute to minimising the harm caused by individuals consuming these substances.

“These measurements would assist policing and health agencies to track which substances are available on the street, and determine their exact concentrations, helping to reduce the harm caused by people taking them,” he explained.

The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technique, renowned in analytical chemistry, is currently limited to university settings due to its high expenses and intricate nature. However, Professor Holland and his team aim to overcome these barriers by harnessing compact, benchtop NMR systems that have yet to be commonly employed. Through the integration of machine learning, they seek to attain comparable accuracy and precision to that of full-size systems.

Furthermore, their groundbreaking work extends this analytical approach to novel and emerging substances, thereby pioneering the world’s first fully automated quantitative analysis of NMR data.

According to Professor Holland, the illicit drugs market operates without regulations, with approximately 50 new illicit substances reported annually. These substances are commonly marketed as ‘synthetic’ or ‘designer’ drugs on the street. There is a significant challenge in accurately identifying these new drugs and determining the precise quantity of the active substance they contain.

However, by introducing their innovative NMR technique, Professor Holland and his team aim to streamline and enhance this process. The new technique promises faster and more accurate identification of illicit drugs while maintaining affordability and accessibility.

According to Professor Holland, there have been recent cases in Aotearoa, New Zealand, where individuals were sold a substance purported to be MDMA (Ecstasy), but it was later discovered to be eutylone, a synthetic drug commonly known as “bath salts.” Eutylone can lead to harmful side effects and even overdose.

Professor Holland highlights that Aotearoa, New Zealand, has been at the forefront of legalising drug-checking services, making it an ideal location for developing this new testing technology. The 2021 Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Act aims to establish a safer environment for individuals to have their drugs tested, ensuring their well-being.

Professor Holland has collaborated closely with the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) in developing the new testing approach. He envisions its potential application in law enforcement, drug testing centres, and forensic testing laboratories.

While he acknowledges that on-site drug testing using benchtop NMR is unlikely at festivals, he believes it could be implemented effectively at drug-checking centres unless there is a mobile lab-type setup. These centres enable individuals to verify the authenticity and safety of illicit drugs before attending festivals or parties.

In addition to the technical aspects, Professor Holland’s research project encompasses a social science and health component. He plans to collaborate with social scientists at the University of Canterbury to explore the underlying reasons for drug use, identify strategies to minimise harm and investigate the existing barriers to drug-checking initiatives.

The team’s ongoing research and development efforts have the potential to extend beyond drug testing applications. The techniques being developed by the team could be adapted for various other analytical chemistry purposes, including food quality control, chemical and polymer manufacturing, and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Professor Holland envisions a significant commercial market for analysis in these sectors, estimating its value to reach around USD$2 billion. The versatility and accuracy of the developed methods open up possibilities for broader applications beyond illicit drug testing, paving the way for advancements in multiple industries where precise analytical measurements are crucial.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and consulting services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,800 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service. For more information, visit www.ibm.com