Forensic detection of steroid abuse - Online hydrotreatment as an elegant preparative step - Resubmission

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Earth Science and Engineering


Detection of drug abuse is essential for safety and fairness in sport. Steroid hormones are the most commonly abused drugs in athletics but confirming steroid abuse can be difficult. One highly accurate method is to look inside the carbon atoms of steroid to measure the ratio of their non-radioactive isotopes (carbon-12 to carbon-13). The carbon isotope ratios of natural human steroids and those used by drug cheats are recognizably different. However, measuring carbon isotope ratios requires good sample preparation steps and steroids can be problematic for the instruments used. Existing preparation techniques lag behind the powerful capabilities of modern mass spectrometer detectors. STFC research has produced a rapid on-line method that can be used to treats steroids with hydrogen to leave only the carbon skeleton intact - the perfect preparation step for carbon isotope ratio analysis. This grant will commercialize the method by demonstrating its advantages relative to existing techniques and by producing a prototype system that will allow the method to be used by technical staff in forensic laboratories world-wide. The commercialization will benefit from partnership with a major UK provider of drug testing services.


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