The U.S. availability of fentanyl and its analogs continue to increase coinciding with an increase in opioid overdoses. The recent additions of positional analogs in the market emphasizes the need of targeted methods to detect, identify, and profile these compounds. Detection and identification are crucial in assessing health risks for law enforcement and first responders due to exposure. Moreover, identifying these compounds in death and overdose cases can indicate new illicit drug supplies in the area and treatment course. Even isomers exert different physiological effects. Profiling provides the chemical intelligence to aid in identifying the source of illicit drugs.
This research is the first gas-liquid chromatography (GLC)-based method using ionic liquid stationary phases to resolve positional isomeric fentanyls. These methods can be used to determine the fentanyls distribution between the blood and various body tissues. GLC-based methods using ionic liquid phases will be suitable to resolve these compounds. Additionally, the fentanyls unknown solute descriptors will be determined. Laboratory analysis will include: thermal stability analysis of ionic liquids, gas chromatographic based method development to detect fentanyls, and characterization of the ionic liquid phases. Several publications, as well as the Ph.D. dissertation, will be produced throughout the course of the project. Publications include the experimental methodology and results regarding the use of ionic liquid phases to resolve fentanyls and calculated Abraham model solute descriptors and blood-tissue partition coefficients. A fentanyls hazard health information and warning guide made using the calculated blood-tissue partition coefficients along with the route of exposure and side effect profiles will be disseminated to national organizations that protect human health (e.g. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)).
Demonstrations using this developed GLC method will be given to interested law enforcement and laboratory personnel at forensic conferences. Project findings will also be presented at the 2020 Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists Conference.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF