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The Evaluation of Alternative Sample Preparation Techniques for Use in Forensic Laboratories

Award Information

Award #
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Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $787,719)

As submitted by the proposer: Forensics laboratories analyze hundreds of thousands of samples each year for controlled substances and drugs of abuse with the results submitted as evidence in judicial cases. Drug-related cases can burden laboratories if they are unable to analyze samples in a timely manner. Although newer alternative sample preparation techniques may be faster and more efficient, many laboratories stick with traditional techniques because of the time needed for method development and validation. RTI International proposes a comparative evaluation of traditional and alternative sample preparation techniques. Specifically, we will evaluate supported liquid extraction (SLE) and disposable pipette extraction (DPX) for comparison to traditionally used solid phase extraction (SPE) and liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) techniques for extracting drugs of abuse from blood, urine, and oral fluid. We will determine if these alternative techniques 1) result in more efficient sample analysis and increased laboratory productivity; 2) perform well for drugs and matrices commonly analyzed in forensic laboratories; 3) result in reliable data (recovery, reproducibility, etc.) comparable to traditional methods; and 4) are more cost effective than the traditional methods. RTI and Boston University will collaborate on this study, so our results will provide for a more thorough evaluation of the reliability of the test results (robustness) as well as possible bias between the two laboratories by examining the analytical processes when small changes in the operation conditions are made. Several vendors will provide technical assistance during method development so that optimal extraction methods will be used during the evaluation. In addition, RTI’s Center for Forensic Science maintains unique relationships with many organizations and forensic laboratories nationally that will allow for wide dissemination of developed methods to the forensic toxicology community. We will share our findings through publications in prominent forensic toxicology journals, social media using a Web-based forum for practitioners to discuss laboratories’ concerns, and presentations at the annual meetings of leading forensic organizations. Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 15, 2016