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NUS researchers developed world's first fluorescent sensor to detect date rape drug
Date:3/28/2014

Wang, a PhD candidate, as well as Mr Elton Tan, a recent graduate, of the Department of Chemistry at the NUS Faculty of Science, screened 5,500 dyes generated from different fluorescent scaffolds. These fluorescent scaffolds have been used to construct the Diversity Oriented Fluorescence Library (DOFL) that was developed by Prof Chang over the last decade.

The team shortlisted 17 fluorescent compounds and further tested them with a wide range of different GHB concentrations. Through this, the team identified that an orange fluorescent compound, coined GHB Orange, changes colour when it is mixed with GHB.

In order to examine the efficiency of GHB Orange, the team tested its detection capability by mixing a small amount of it with samples of various beverages, ranging from alcoholic, non-alcoholic, coloured and colourless drinks, which contain GHB. The test revealed differences in the fluorescence intensity between GHB-free and GHB-spiked beverages. For drinks that are translucent or of a light colour, such as water or vodka, the change in colour can be easily detected with the naked eye. The change in the colour of darker drinks, such as Cola and whiskey, requires the aid of additional lighting to better detect the change.

Remarkably, this detection can be done through a simple mix-and-see process, which takes less than 30 seconds.

Future plans

While GHB Orange has proven to be efficient in detecting GHB in beverages, there is a need to develop a test kit that is convenient for users to use and carry around. Prof Chang and his team intend to work with industry partners to develop a handy and cheap device for GHB detection.


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Contact: Carolyn Fong
carolyn@nus.edu.sg
65-651-65399
National University of Singapore
Source:Eurekalert  

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