Development of a Thin Layer Chromatographic Method for Simultaneously Screening Multiple Drugs in Serum

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Veeravan Lekskulchai


Background: Multiple drug screening is required to find out if a drug or a cocktail of drugs is the cause of illness or death. A thin layer chromatography was developed for this purpose as an alternative method for laboratories lacking in high technological chromatography. 

Methods: Drug spiked serums were extracted, spotted on a commercial TLC plate, developed in a 250 mL beaker, and colorized by reacting with certain reagents.

Results: The turnaround time of this method was about 1 hour. Twenty drugs could be identified after reacting with 2 or more detection reagents. Adding iodine in the reagent, instead of using iodine vapor, could enhance the detection capacity.  In contrast, the plate drying temperature had no impact on the reaction with ninhydrin.

Conclusions: The developed TLC method can be used to screen several drugs simultaneously. It is simple and rapid for preliminarily identifying blood drugs in intoxicated or over-dosed cases. The results can narrow down the suspected drug(s) which can be confirmed by even a single drug immunoassay method available in most hospital laboratories.

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