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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 11 Issue 3 (2006) pp 190-195

Radioimmunoassay of Morphine in Urine from Ingestion of Poppy Seeds: A Research-Based Laboratory

Howard Drossman*, Jeremy B. Myers† and Nathan W. Bower

Department of Chemistry, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO 80903,
Received December 1, 2006. Accepted March 17, 2006.

Published online: 25 May 2006

Abstract. A research-based bioanalytical/forensic science laboratory that makes use of a commercially available 125I-labeled radioimmunoassay kit (Coat-a-Count) is described. The kit is used to test for morphine in test-subjects’ urine after poppy seed consumption. The curricular goals include safe handling of radiochemicals, learning immunoassay skills, using radiochemical instrumentation and its associated calculations, and designing and analyzing experiments with several variables. Detection may employ a Geiger counter, gamma counter, or liquid scintillation counter. The results described in this paper include optimization of variables using fractional-factorial experimental designs and the effects of glucuronidation on morphine elimination. Student-designed experiments are provided that study the effects of drinking volume and sugar content of beverages consumed while eating poppy seeds prior to testing morphine levels in urine.

Key Words: biochemistry; analytical chemistry; forensic chemistry; experimental design; immunoassay; morphine, radioimmunoassay, research-based laboratory

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (283 KB) HTML format


Supporting Materials:

A Zip file containing the laboratory supplement and two spreadsheets used for the experiment is available. (132 KB)

Issue date: June 1, 2006

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