OpiTracker for Universal Detection of Opioid

G. Zhang, J. Zhou
Zymeron Corporation,
United States

Keywords: Opioid, fentanyl, colorimetric detection, biosensing, nanoparticle, narcotics, occupational health


Novel synthetic opioids include various analogs of fentanyl and emerging non-fentanyl compounds with different chemical structures have rapidly emerged on the drug market. The abuse of these drugs has been increasing in USA and worldwide. These opioid based toxins affect the capacities of military medicine, veteran’s health, and national security, along with public health, law enforcement, healthcare, and social welfare. Also, opioid based toxins are a class of chemical threat to the military warfighters. Traditional opioid lab detection techniques, such as chromatography and mass spectrometry, often require relatively expensive, cumbersome instruments, and a skilled professional to operate. The current environmental opioid sample collection and identification kits include the Field Drug Test Kits and the NARK II Presumptive Narcotics Test Pouches, and both kits can only work for small areas per wipe and can only detect several limited opioid compounds per kit. Conventional colorimetric techniques require macroscopic amounts of material and long-time operation, making them unsuitable for safe field testing. Moreover, in these methods, harsh acidic/base pH is needed for opioid identification. Thus, a novel easy-to-use and low-cost detection technology capable of identification of trace quantities of a broad range of opioids including emerging synthetic fentanyl derivatives in various sources (i.e. liquid samples, solid samples and contaminated surface) will extend the opioid detection capability, and reduce the health risk as well benefit the national security. Capability Description - Zymeron developed a color change Opi-Tracker(TM) formulation for rapid opioid detection in less than 10 minutes. This advanced detection technique offers many advantages including the high sensitivity, high selectivity, quick time detection, low cost, simple procedure, convenient operation and easy scale up. Results - Zymeron’s Opi-Tracker is based on plasmonic nanoparticles which exhibits different optical properties according to their dispersed or aggregated state. The shorter interparticle distance induces the aggregation of nanoparticles resulting in the solution color change from red to blue, that can be easily observed by simple naked-eye observation or spectroscopic measurements. In the detection system, the nanoparticles were engineered with a broad spectrum opioid receptor protein which has the capability to bind and recognize any opioid compounds at trace concentrations. Different formulations were developed to quickly detect the fentanyl and its derivative compounds in liquid, solid samples, as well as spray mapping the surface contaminated by the opioid compounds. The detection formulations were demonstrated rapid response time (i.e. < 0.1 mg/m2) on various large area surfaces.