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Evaluation of a lateral flow immunoassay for the detection of the synthetic opioid fentanyl

Angelini, Daniel J., Biggs, Tracey D., Maughan, Michele N., Feasel, Michael G., Sisco, Edward, Sekowski, Jennifer W.
Forensic science international 2019 v.300 pp. 75-81
cross reaction, fentanyl, heroin, immunoassays, law enforcement, narcotics, overdose, toxic substances, toxicity
In 2017, 47,600 overdose deaths were reported to be associated with the abuse of opioids, including prescription painkillers (e.g. oxycodone), opiates (e.g. heroin), or synthetic opioids (e.g. fentanyl) within the United States. The recent spike in the presence of synthetic opioids in lots of heroin distributed on the street present specific and significant challenges to law enforcement. Synthetic opioids are extremely toxic substances, which can easily be inhaled. This type of exposure can lead to accidental overdoses by law enforcement and other first responders answering calls involving illicit drugs containing these substances. Due to this extreme toxicity, it is important for these individuals to have tools that can be easily deployed for accurate presumptive field tests. Currently, there are only a limited number of presumptive tests available for fentanyl detection. In this study, we addressed this technology gap by evaluating newly developed lateral flow immunoassays (LFIs) designed for the detection of fentanyl and its derivatives. These LFIs were evaluated for effectiveness in different biofluid matrices, following an in vivo exposure, cross-reactivity with fentanyl analogs, and in case samples. This study demonstrates that LFIs have the potential to be used by law enforcement for the detection of synthetic opioids.