Graphene-based drug detectors: Characterised by UV

Skip to Navigation


  • Published: Jan 8, 2018
  • Author: David Bradley
  • Channels: UV/Vis Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: Graphene-based drug detectors: Characterised by UV

Spongy drug sensor

Various techniques including ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy have been used to characterise spongy drug detectors based on graphene.

Various techniques including ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy have been used to characterise spongy drug detectors based on graphene.

Mona Mohamed of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Department, at the National Organization for Drug Control and Research, in Giza, Dalia El-Gendy, Nashaat Ahmed, and Nageh Allam of the Energy Materials Laboratory, at The American University in Cairo, Egypt, and Craig Banks of Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, have made an adenine-functionalized spongy graphene (FSG) composite, fabricated using what they refer to as a facile and green synthetic method. They characterised the system using a raft of techniques: Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Raman spectroscopy, X-ray powder diffraction, UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), and thermogravimetric analysis. Tests on its activity were carried out to assess its suitability as a potential electrocatalyst for the electroanalytical sensing of the widely used and widely abused opiate drug codeine phosphate (COD).

Methyl morphine

Codeine (methyl morphine) is a widely used, orally active and relatively moderate painkiller. It is also sometimes used to control coughing and to treat diarrhoea. It has numerous widely accepted side-effects including vomiting, constipation, itchiness, lightheadedness, and drowsiness. As with other opiates, short-term, but repeated use can lead to tolerance whereas prolonged use can often lead to physical dependence. Moreover, it is also used as a recreational drug and as a substitute for heroin among addicts where they have no ready access to that more potent drug. Codeine can also be illicitly converted to the stronger drug morphine, indeed smoking codeine converts it to morphine, which has a stronger effect in the brain. As such, the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), as well as other organizations have in place strict guidelines and warnings about the drug's use and its adverse effects, which can include death.

There are various analytical methods aimed at its detection using blood, plasma, or urine samples. Some of these can be used in a monitoring capacity in therapy and in post mortem and forensic investigations when a death has occurred. Screening for abuse might also use hair, sweat, or saliva for testing. "The need to monitor and detect COD using simple, fast, and reliable protocols is of paramount importance," the team reports in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.


The codeine sensor developed by the Egypt-UK team has a wide linear response range from 2.0 × 10-8 to 2.0 × 10-4 molar. Its detection limit is detection limit of 5.8 × 10-9 molar. "Compared to other analytical, the developed sensor is fast, potentially portable, cost effective, uses simpler instruments and avoids application of organic solvents," the team says. The same approach might be used for other analytes and in the meantime the team will further cross validate the sensor with chromatographic techniques.

Related Links

Biosens Bioelectronics 2018, 101, 90-95: "3D spongy graphene-modified screen-printed sensors for the voltammetric determination of the narcotic drug codeine"

Article by David Bradley

The views represented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

Follow us on Twitter!

Social Links

Share This Links

Bookmark and Share


Suppliers Selection
Societies Selection

Banner Ad

Click here to see
all job opportunities

Copyright Information

Interested in separation science? Visit our sister site

Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All Rights Reserved