The Laboratory of Toxicology is a universitary laboratory (Ghent University). This means that the laboratory occupies mainly in one of the following activities; scientific research, public services (Routine) and education. Each of these tasks is shortly described in the following paragraphs. More comprehensive information about these topics can be found when following the hyperlinks.
A substantial amount of the activities involves scientific research. Often, existing techniques are improved to detect drugs (e.g. benzodiazepines) or drugs of abuse (opiates, cocaine) in a faster, more efficient or more sensitive way. The laboratory has also some interest in alternative matrices. Saliva for example, is being investigated for detecting different types of drugs of abuse. This can eventually be applied in roadsite or workplace drug testing and circumvents some tedious issues of invasive blood sampling or urine sampling (often causing a privacy problem when authorities try to avoid cheating).
Not all research is situated in the field of forensic toxicology. Important research is conducted towards environmental toxicology. New methods are developed for the determination of xeno-oestrogenic ( PCB's, pesticides, alkylphenols, oestrogen related compounds) substances in water samples. These substances are thought to be responsible for the declining male sperm quality and environmental problems. Some of these methods use LC/MS (liquid chromatography coupled mass spectrometry), a relatively new, promising and fast growing technique. Here, a new type of LC/MS system (M-8000 from Merck-Hitachi) was successfully applied.
A new research area the laboratory is starting is the analysis of chemotherapeutic agents, mainly taxanes and anthracyclines. The development of therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) in oncology is new and highly appreciated by oncologists. The ultimate purpose is to optimize therapeutic efficacy and avoid serious side effects of the therapy.
Another new research area the laboratory is investigating concerns the analysis of folic acid. Here, a liquid chromatography combined with fluorescence detection provides the required sensitivity.
The laboratories main public service is situated in the field of analytical chemistry. This means that the laboratory has thorough expertise in the determination of drugs and drugs of abuse in biological matrices such as blood and urine. This expertise is routinely used to help investigate judicial cases. Another type of routine analysis that is part of the laboratories main activities are workplace analyis. For example, heavy metals are determined for safety issues.
Education in Toxicology and related courses are taught by Prof. Dr. W. Lambert.