Rapid drug detection in oral samples by porous silicon assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry

Rachel D. Lowe, Georgia E. Guild, Peter Harpas, K. Paul Kirkbride, Peter Hoffmann, Nicolas H. Voelcker, Hilton Kobus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The demand for analysis of oral fluid for illicit drugs has arisen with the increased adoption of roadside testing, particularly in countries where changes in legislation allow random roadside testing of drivers for the presence of a palette of illicit drugs such as methamphetamine (MA), 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Oral samples are currently tested for such drugs at the roadside using an immunoassay-based commercial test kit. Positive roadside tests are sent for confirmatory laboratory analysis, traditionally by means of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). We present here an alternative rapid analysis technique, porous silicon assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (pSi LDI-MS), for the high-throughput analysis of oral fluids. This technique alleviates the need for sample derivatization, requires only sub-microliter sample volumes and allows fast analysis (of the order of seconds). In this study, the application of the technique is demonstrated with real samples from actual roadside testing. The analysis of oral samples resulted in detection of MA and MDMA with no extraction and analysis of THC after ethyl acetate extraction. We propose that, subject to miniaturization of a suitable mass spectrometer, this technique is well suited to underpin the deployment of oral fluid testing in the clinic, workplace and on the roadside.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3543-3548
Number of pages6
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

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