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The illicit consumption of heroin is an increasing concern in our society. For this reason, rapid analytical methods to seize heroin samples in the field are of paramount importance to hinder drug trafficking, and thus prevent the availability of heroin in the drug market. The present work reports on the enriched electrochemical fingerprint of heroin, allowing its selective detection in street samples, based on the use of electrochemical pretreated screen printed electrodes (p-SPE). The voltammetric identification is built on two oxidation peaks of both heroin and its degradation product 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM), generated in alkaline conditions. Interestingly, an anodic pretreatment of the screen printed electrodes (SPE) shifts the peak potential of paracetamol (the most encountered cutting agent in heroin seizures), allowing the detection of 6-MAM peak, overlapping with the paracetamol signal in the case of untreated SPE. Subsequently, the characterization of the p-SPE with scanning electron microscopy, cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Raman and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy is provided to demonstrate local changes on the surface of the electrode. From an analytical perspective, p-SPE provide higher sensitivity (0.019 μA μM-1), excellent reproducibility (6-MAM, RSD = 2.85%, and heroin RSD = 0.91%, n = 5) and lower limits of detection (LOD) (5.2 μM) in comparison to untreated SPE. The proposed protocol which integrates a tailor-made script is interrogated against common cutting agents, and finally, validated with the screening of 14 street samples, also analyzed by standard methods. Besides, a comparison with portable spectroscopic techniques on the confiscated samples shows the better performance of the electrochemical strategy. Overall, this sensing approach offers promising results for the rapid on-site profiling of suspicious heroin samples, also in the presence of paracetamol. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Noelia Felipe Montiel, Marc Parrilla, Victoria Beltrán, Gert Nuyts, Filip Van Durme, Karolien De Wael. The opportunity of 6-monoacetylmorphine to selectively detect heroin at preanodized screen printed electrodes. Talanta. 2021 May 01;226:122005

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PMID: 33676638

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