Aptamers and sensors for detection of synthetic cathinones – IP 1764

Synthetic cathinones, also known as’bath salts’, are designer drugs sharing a similar core structure withamphetamines and 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA). They are highlyaddictive central nervous system stimulants that are associated with manynegative health consequences, and can even cause death. Although these drugshave only emerged recently, abuse of bath salts has become a threat to publichealth and safety due to their severe toxicity, increasingly broad availability,and difficulty of regulation. More importantly, there is currently no reliablepresumptive test for any synthetic cathinones. Chemical spot tests used to detect conventional drugs suchas cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids show no cross-reactivity to syntheticcathinones. FIUinventors have developed a DNA aptamer isolated from systematic evolution ofligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX) binding to3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and numerous members of the syntheticcathinone family. The isolated MDPV-binding aptamer showed highcross-reactivity to other synthetic cathinone analogs, including naphyrone, methylone,pentylone, and mephedrone, but not for structurally-similar drugs, like amphetamineand methamphetamine, and common cutting agents, such as lidocaine, benzocaine,and caffeine. Once the synthetic cathinone binds to the aptamer-based sensor, a change in absorbance or fluorescence intensity is observed. The absorbance read-out can be quantified by, for example, a microplate-reader or portable photometer, allowing for high-throughput detection. Anne Laure Schmitt Olivier aschmitt@fiu.edu 305-348-5948

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