Toxicological/forensic analysis refers to the scientific examination and evaluation of substances, chemicals, and biological samples to determine their presence, concentration, and potential effects in legal and forensic investigations. It involves the application of various analytical techniques and methodologies to detect, identify, and quantify toxic substances, drugs, or other compounds that may have contributed to a crime, accident, or suspicious death.
Analyzing complex body fluids for the presence of drugs and/or toxicants together with their associated metabolites is a challenging application especially when ‘getting it right first time’ is of major importance.
TargetScreener HR is designed to meet these challenges and either accurately report which drugs/toxicants are present in the sample, or if no matches are found in the database, then provide several key pieces of analytical data and information to give the best chance of elucidating an identification.
The Toxtyper solution was developed to meet the needs of forensic and clinical research labs. Toxtyper is the most robust productive and easy-to-use LCMS seeing solution for toxicology. The Toxtyper can perform screening, confirmation, and semiquantitative in one run at part per billion sensitivity beyond what conventional GCMS screening solutions can offer. This means it is possible to detect the targeted substances and its metabolites in a wide range of biological matrices at concentrations down to low Nanograms/milliliters.
The growing demand for forensic analytics is driven by the increasing number of targets, including emerging new psychoactive substances (NPS). This has put pressure on labs to handle larger caseloads while also improving the selectivity and sensitivity of analyses to reduce sample preparation and analysis time, ultimately shortening response time and increasing throughput. Direct-Analysis-in-Real-Time Mass Spectrometry (DART-MS) as a unique Point-of-Need (PoN) workflow is meeting these demands, allowing for quick and easy generation of useful information and increased productivity in the lab.
Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 2017;41:484–492 doi: 10.1093/jat/bkx041
Determination of medicinal and illicit drugs in post-mortem dental hard tissues and comparison with analytical results for body fluids and hair samples - ScienceDirect
Although drug analysis using immunological methods is fast, it is not always reliable. The available screening tests can easily lead to false positive results. For the confirmation of such immunoassay results, complex and time-consuming GC-MS analysis has been so far performed. Unambiguous detection and identification of drugs and related compounds in solids, powders, and liquids is a key area of forensic investigation and drug screening. Analytical approaches need to be accurate, detect drugs and other toxins at low levels in small samples, and provide results quickly.
" All substances are poisons: there is none which is not poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy."
Case study 1
Determination of medicinal and illicit drugs in post-mortem dental hard tissues and comparison with analytical results for body fluids and hair samples
In burnt or skeletonized bodies dental hard tissue sometimes is the only remaining specimen available. Therefore, it could be used as an alternative matrix in post-mortem toxicology. Like hair and nails, dental hard tissues accumulate drugs during long-term exposure. As a basis for interpreting analytical results, the factors which influence drug concentrations in dental hard tissues need to be investigated.
Case study 2
Qualitative Identification of Fentanyl Analogs and Other Opioids in Postmortem Cases by UHPLC-Ion Trap-MSn
Since 2013, the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department has experienced an increase in the number of opioid-related deaths. In 2015, two novel fentanyl analogs were identified: beta-hydroxythiofentanyl and acetyl fentanyl. In 2016, four additional fentanyl analogs emerged: para-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl, butyryl fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, and carfentanil, Blood, urine, liver or brain specimens from ~500 postmortem cases were submitted for analysis based on case history and/or initial screening results.
Case study 3
Detection and semi-quantitative determination of designer benzodiazepines in serum using LC-MSn
Benzodiazepines play an important role in forensic toxicology as they are widely
prescribed in the treatment of psychiatric disorders and are also used as drugs of abuse.
In 2012 the group of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) including numerous
synthetic cannabinoids and designer stimulants (“bath salts”) was extended by the inclusion of benzodiazepine-type compounds.
The typical toxicology approach includes two analytical steps: a first screening step, performed with broad-spectrum, sensitive, rapid, and low-cost techniques, aimed at avoiding “false negative” results, followed by more specific and quantitative analyses, although more complex, time-consuming and expensive, aimed at excluding “false positives”.
Today's forensic toxicology and clinical research labs are challenged by demands for fast and accurate results, along with lab efficiency and cost reduction. Further pressure results from the continuous emergence of new drugs into the market, requiring frequent updates of sample screening methods.
The objectives of toxicological/forensic analysis include:
Detection of Toxic Substances: Toxicological analysis aims to detect the presence of toxic substances, such as drugs, poisons, chemicals, or alcohol, in various samples, including biological fluids (e.g., blood, urine, saliva), tissues, or environmental samples. This helps establish if a particular substance played a role in a crime, accident, or poisoning.
Quantification of Substances: Toxicological analysis involves measuring and quantifying the concentration of toxic substances in the samples. This information is crucial for determining the level of exposure or intoxication, establishing the potential contribution of the substance to the event in question, and assessing its potential impact on an individual's physiological or psychological state