The application of novel extraction and analytical techniques in forensic toxicology
The aim of this study was to investigate new methods of analysis which might be applied to forensic toxicology problems including those resulting from pesticides, particularly the quaternary ammonium herbicide group, and from drugs, particularly the benzodiazepine group. In the first part of this study, an efficient method for the determination of quaternary ammonium (QA) compounds (pesticides and drugs) in human whole blood was developed. The second part of this study concerned the development of a novel sorbents for solid phase extraction using molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs). The approach adopted was initially to synthesise a known MIP using diazepam as template then to prepare novel MIPs using other benzodiazepines and analogues of QA compounds as templates. In the first of these stages, an anti-diazepam MIP was synthesized using methacrylate acid (MAA) as the monomer and ethylene glycol dimethacrylate (EGDMA) as the cross-liner and was then ground and prepared for use as an SPE sorbent by packing it into SPE cartridges. These cartridges were used to clean up extracts of diazepam and other benzodiazepine drugs made from hair samples via a molecularly imprinted solid-phase extraction (MISPE) protocol. The MISPE method was also found to be applicable to the analysis of diazepam metabolites and other benzodiazepine drugs in addition to diazepam itself. The application of the extraction method to post-mortem hair samples yielded results that were in good agreement with ELISA data (from blood samples) and data arising from the analysis of the same blood samples using a validated in-house SPE-LC-MS-MS method. The MISPE procedure was also compared with a conventional SPE method for analysis of benzodiazepines in hair samples. The results from MISPE protocol showed better selectivity, specificity and accuracy toward diazepam (template molecule) and other benzodiazepines that display a similar resemblance to diazepam in terms of molecular structure. The MISPE procedure was found to be simpler and to offer cleaner extracts compared to a conventional SPE method.