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Green chemistry meets sports

Using ionic liquid aqueous systems for drug extraction

Oeiras, 14.09.10

Determining the quantity of alkaloids such as caffeine and/or nicotine in anti-doping tests can be made easier if the extraction step is carried out with ionic-liquid-based aqueous solutions instead of volatile organic compounds. This has been demonstrated by researchers from the Molecular Thermodynamics Laboratory at ITQB and collaborators and has been published in Green Chemistry.

In anti-doping controls, strictly forbidden drugs can be tested qualitatively but those with restricted use, such as caffeine, require quantification to determine if there has been a deliberate attempt at doping by the athlete. Quantification analyses depend on the application of extraction methods to increase the drug concentration from the original sample. In their work, researchers tested a number of different ionic liquids in the extraction of caffeine and nicotine both from aqueous phases and more complex matrixes, such as human urine-type samples. 

Researchers concluded that, using selected ionic-liquid-based aqueous biphasic systems, it is possible to achieve the complete extraction of caffeine and nicotine suitable for analytical purposes. This approach replaces volatile organic solvents with a relatively small quantity of (recyclable) ionic liquid solvents in a second aqueous phase and opens new avenues for the separation and concentration of other bioactive drugs.


Original Article

Green Chem., 2010, Advance Article

High-performance extraction of alkaloids using aqueous two-phase systems with ionic liquids

Mara G. Freire, Catarina M. S. S. Neves, Isabel M. Marrucho, José N. Canongia Lopes, Luís Paulo N. Rebelo and João A. P. Coutinho
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