RIVM in the Netherlands uses the Spinsolve benchtop NMR spectrometer to investigate illegal drugs

Dr Peter Keizers is a scientist in the Centre for Health Protection at RIVM, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment based in Bilthoven. As a chemist, he investigates (illegal) drugs, medical devices and other medicinal products. His group studies the composition of these products and specifically look for active pharmaceutical ingredients, preferably in a quantitative way.

In order to identify components in medicinal products, selective analytical methods are required. NMR spectroscopy is such a technique. Furthermore, NMR spectroscopy offers a direct way to quantify any of the components encountered without the need of a reference standard. Historically we have used and will continue to use high field NMR spectroscopy, various forms of vibration spectroscopy as well as mass spectrometry coupled to chromatographic systems.

Dr Keizers comments on the benefits of their using the Spinsolve 60.

“Compared to other spectroscopic methods, the Magritek benchtop NMR spectrometer yields spectra with relatively high information content directly related to molecular structure. This aspect is even strengthened by the option to monitor other nuclei than just 1H proton and the ability to perform 2D experiments. Compared to high field NMR spectrometers, the benchtop version is easy to use and maintain. It is also much more economic to run using standard NMR sample tubes and not requiring any cryogens.”

Dr Keizers’ group was recognised in the top three of 36 ideas reviewed by RIVM in their annual Innovation Prize competition. In 2014, he proposed a handheld detection device (infrared spectrometer) to carry out chemical analyses quickly and simply on the spot. For example, this would enable rapid screening in the pre-selection of laboratory samples, or in the field, to screen for party drugs at dance events. He was awarded prize money to develop these ideas in the following year. He has published several papers while at RIVM. For example in 2016, he was lead author in a paper that looked at “The quality of sildenafil active substance of illegal source” which was published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis.