Kolkata: An ultrasensitive paper chip developed by Indian scientists can detect minute amounts of ketamine, a date rape drug, in a jiffy, in biological samples as well as in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, a researcher said on Wednesday.

It has the potential to make drinks safer.

Existing sensors take time to analyse samples, need expert personnel and are expensive.

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“The current method employs paper based electrode system for electro analytical determination of ketamine. The advantage is reduced cost as in this methodology we have used paper based chip which are much cheaper than metal based electrodes (sensors),” lead researcher Jagriti Narang, of Amity Institute of Nanotechnology, Amity University – Noida, Uttar Pradesh, told IANS on e-mail.

Ketamine induces a trance-like state while providing pain relief, sedation, and memory loss.

The paper chip can zero in on ketamine in samples that scale down to one millionth of a litre.

“Therefore, this technology is non-expensive, requires microlitres of sample and facile paper chips. We have used nanoparticles for amplification of sensing signal,” Narang said.

The paper chip was fabricated from zeolites nanoflakes and graphene-oxide nanocrystal.

“The sensor was able to selectively detect ketamine even in the presence of flavouring agents, preservatives and colouring agents that serve as the vehicle or medium for a drug or other active substance.”

“The results showed insignificant interference. We have employed this sensor in biological samples such as urine, alcoholic (rum and whiskey) and non-alcoholic drinks (Pepsi and Coke). It is able to detect in nano-moles and can detect within five seconds,” Narang added.

The study is published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics journal and involves researchers from Amity Institute of Physiotherapy, Amity University, Noida, and Department of Biochemistry, MD University, Rohtak, Haryana.

First Published | 2 November 2016 2:10 PM
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