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COSAM Researcher Studies Opioid Degradation to Help the CDC Fight the Opioid Crisis

Published: 09/03/2019

By: Maria Gebhardt

Rashad Karimov

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017.

Dr. Rashad Karimov, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), is the recipient of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help characterize cases related to fentanyl and its analogues which are major contributors to the opioid crisis.

Over the next nine months, the Karimov Group which focuses on organic synthesis, will be studying the selective degradation of fentanyl type compounds to improve proper characterization of fentanyl related overdose cases.   At the end of these studies his research group, will provide a complex report to the CDC about the specific chemical methodologies.

Rashad Karimov

“Fentanyl is an incredibly potent and fast-acting drug” Dr. Karimov explained. “Being able to accurately characterize overdoses from fentanyl and its analogues will help first-responders to be able to save more lives.”

The main limitation of current approaches is that they require generation and storage of a large number of antibodies and internal standards for detecting ever changing fentanyl analogues. Working with the CDC’s emergency response branch, Dr. Karimov’s goal is to reduce the overall number of internal standards, which will help researchers classify cases quicker from blood samples and direct resources more efficiently to fight this epidemic.

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