URI Chemistry Professor Develops New Contaminant Detection Technique for Blood Thinner Heparin

In 2008, a contaminant eluded the quality safeguards in the pharmaceutical industry and infiltrated a large portion of the supply of the popular blood thinner heparin, sickening hundreds and killing about 100 in the U.S.

It took a team of researchers led by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to confirm the contaminant, a toxin structurally similar to heparin that was traced to a Chinese supplier. But detection of the impurity required “a tremendous effort by heavy hitters in the chemistry world,” said Jason Dwyer, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island.

After nearly eight years of research, Dwyer has developed a simpler and quicker method for detecting the impurity in heparin, along with creating a process that could have wider benefits. His research was unveiled today in the prestigious online journal Nature Communications, part of the suite of journals from the publisher of Nature.

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