Fluorescent Dye May Help Spot Date-Rape Drug in Drinks

News Picture: Fluorescent Dye May Help Spot Date-Rape Drug in Drinks

MONDAY, March 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've developed a simple new test that quickly detects the date-rape drug GHB in drinks.

GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid), a central nervous system depressant, is one of the most commonly used date-rape drugs. Spiking drinks with GHB, which is odorless and colorless, incapacitates victims, making them vulnerable to sexual assault.

When the fluorescent compound is mixed with a sample of drink containing GHB, the mixture changes color in less than 30 seconds, according to the research team at the National University of Singapore.

The researchers tested a number of fluorescent compounds with a wide range of GHB concentrations and identified one called GHB Orange that changes color when mixed with the date-rape drug.

The team then tested the ability of GHB Orange to detect GHB in different types of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and found that it was effective, according to the study, published recently in the journal Chemical Communications.

The color change was readily apparent in clear and light-colored drinks such as water or vodka, but additional lighting was needed to detect the change in darker drinks such as cola and whiskey, the researchers said.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: National University of Singapore, news release, March 27, 2014