A Membrane-Modulated Centrifugal Microdevice for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay-Based Detection of Illicit and Misused Drugs

Leah M. Dignan, M. Shane Woolf, Jennifer A. Ross, Carly Baehr, Christopher P. Holstege, Marco Pravetoni, James P. Landers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Increased opioid use and misuse have imposed large analytical demands across clinical and forensic sectors. Due to the absence of affordable, accurate, and simple on-site tests (e.g., point of interdiction and bedside), analysis is primarily conducted in centralized laboratories via time-consuming, labor-intensive methods. Many healthcare facilities do not have such analytical capabilities and must send samples to commercial laboratories, increasing turnaround time and care costs, as well as delaying public health warnings regarding the emergence of specific substances. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) are used ubiquitously, despite lengthy workflows that require substantial manual intervention. Faster, reliable analytics are desperately needed to mitigate the mortality and morbidity associated with the current substance use epidemic. We describe one such alternative─a portable centrifugal microfluidic ELISA system that supplants repetitive pipetting with rotationally controlled fluidics. Embedded cellulosic membranes act as microvalves, permitting flow only when centrifugally generated hydraulic pressure exceeds their liquid entry pressure. These features enable stepwise reagent introduction, incubation, and removal simply by tuning rotational frequency. We demonstrate the success of this platform through sensitive, specific colorimetric detection of opiates, a subclass of opioids naturally derived from the opium poppy. Objective image analysis eliminated subjectivity in human color perception and permitted reliable detection of opiates in buffer and artificial urine at the ng/μL range. Opiates were clearly differentiated from other drug classes without interference from common adulterants known to cause false positive results in current colorimetric field tests. Eight samples were simultaneously analyzed in under 1 h, a marked reduction from the traditional multiday timeline. This approach could permit rapid, automatable ELISA-based drug detection outside of traditional laboratories by nontechnical personnel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16213-16221
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 7 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the University of Virginia Engineering in Medicine grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society


  • Colorimetry
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Microfluidics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Substance Abuse Detection

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'A Membrane-Modulated Centrifugal Microdevice for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay-Based Detection of Illicit and Misused Drugs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this