VIU researchers develop method for detecting lethal fentanyl levels (BCCSU)

A team of researchers from Vancouver Island University have made a breakthrough that could save lives amid B.C.’s opioid epidemic.

Led by chemistry professor Chris Gill, researchers have developed a drug-testing method that, within minutes, could tell an opioid user whether the drugs they’re about to take contain a lethal dose of fentanyl. A sample of the drug is analyzed using a paper spray mass spectrometer, which breaks down the molecules to identify which toxic substances are in the drug and how much, down to a tiny fraction of a percent.

Mass spectrometer technology is already being used to detect chemicals in other substances, for example in environmental testing, but Gill’s team partnered with Island Health, LifeLabs and consulted with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use to apply the method to harm-reduction drug testing.

Katie DeRosa reports.

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