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Issue 8, 2020
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Enzyme-based paper test for detection of lactose in illicit drugs

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Abstract

Lactose is commonly used as a cutting agent in illicit drugs. Currently, presumptive field color test kits for illicit drugs do not test for the presence of lactose or other cutting agents. A method was developed to detect lactose on a paper-based test card. A three-enzyme system comprised of lactase, glucose oxidase, and peroxidase was used to break down lactose into peroxide, which was then detected with a redox indicator. The test can detect lactose concentrations as low as 5% in solid samples and shows no interference when lactose is mixed with illicit drugs or commercial pharmaceuticals. Prepared test cards were stable on the shelf for up to five months. In a blinded study of samples composed of mixtures of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine HCl, crack cocaine, fillers, and lactose, the sensitivity for detection of lactose across three readers was 100% and specificity was 96.4% (n = 96). When this test was incorporated into a 12-lane test card for the detection of illicit drugs, readers were correctly able to identify the illicit drug and the presence of lactose with 99.3% sensitivity and 100% specificity (n = 54). This test is a robust and affordable way to detect lactose in illicit drug samples.

Graphical abstract: Enzyme-based paper test for detection of lactose in illicit drugs

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
15 Nov 2019
Accepted
03 Feb 2020
First published
04 Feb 2020

Anal. Methods, 2020,12, 1077-1084
Article type
Paper

Enzyme-based paper test for detection of lactose in illicit drugs

J. Zinna, T. E. Lockwood and M. Lieberman, Anal. Methods, 2020, 12, 1077
DOI: 10.1039/C9AY02459J

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