Saturday, 14 May 2011

Lecture 1 - Overview on Analytical Toxicology

A few days back I was just browsing through my books when I found a recent purchase I made around 2 years ago. Well, recent or not, it is up to you to criticise it, but the reason I am bringing it to the blog is because I believe it would be a great idea to just start a series of lectures on Analytical Toxicology. There's loads of people who would like to know how calculations can be made, how certain concepts are defined by the art, what do industries/laboratories have to give us in terms of practical toxicology, in terms of methodology, and empirical curiosities that might generate interest in this amazing science branch. 

It is universal that no knowledge is wasted knowledge, and I want to share this passion of mine with the most of whoever gets to surf this blog. Above all, what I want to avoid is the boring bits that immediately put people of, and go straight to action, therefore any comments are more than welcome and will be definitely appreciated and taken in account

So, for starters, today I have for you A Very Very Brief Overview on Analytical Toxicology:

What is Analytical Toxicology? Analytical Toxicology concerns detection, identification and measuring of drugs as well as other foreign compounds (known as xenobiotics) and their biological metabolites in  subject specimens.

What are the most powerful analytical methods in modern analytical toxicology? Definitely the chromatographic methods in the first place, and right after the ligand immunoassays, but there are several other techniques available. It is important to state, though, that it is virtually impossible to screen for all the toxins/toxicants in the studied samples. The practical trick is to have a clear objective in mind and aim for it.

What are the principle methods and corresponding techniques for the analysis of drugs and organic poisons in biological samples? There are several methods and it would take me ages to list all the possibilities, therefore, I will only discuss the commonest ones. The most applied principles can be divided in seven main categories, thus: 1) in the chromatographic principle one can find gas chromatography (GC), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC); 2) in the spectrometric principle one can find mass spectrometry (MS), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and spectrophotofluorimetry (SPFM) and ultraviolet/visible absorption spectrophotometry (SPFM); 3) in the electrophoretric principle one can find capillary electrophoresis (CE), capillary electro-chromatography (CEC); 4) in the immunoassay principle  one can find enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), radioimmunoassay (RIA), microparticle enzyme immunoassay (MEIA); 5) in the chemical principle one can find the colour test; 6) in the electrochemical principle one can find biosensors and differential pulse polarography (DPP); 7) in the enzyme-based assay one can find alcohol dehydrogenase and aryl acylamide amidohydrolase, ethanol and paracetamol, respectively.

In due time I will present videos and other interactive material offering a much clearer perspective of all these techniques. For now this is it; as in science it is not difficult to confuse entice with boredom if one just overloads the visitor with a paraphernalia of ideas that can, ultimately, undermine the primordial objective. 

See you as soon as possible for a recycling report, once again as usual, on The Toxicologist Today!

Image taken from GenInv - Health and Wellness,, last visited on the 14th of May 2011, last update unknown.

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