UKZN Study Develops New Method to Determine EfavirenzGeneral

Dr Neeta Thapliyal.Dr Neeta Thapliyal.

Post-Doctoral Fellow in UKZN’s Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Dr Neeta Thapliyal, has invented a NiO-ZrO2 nanocomposite modified electrode to determine efavirenz.

This followed her study titled: “Highly Sensitive NiO-ZrO2 Nanocomposite Based Electrochemical Sensor for Nanomolar Determination of Efavirenz”, an anti-HIV drug, with the aim to develop a simple and sensitive method for efavirenz determination.

The study developed a sensor for analysis of the drug. ‘Though well tolerated, the drug is associated with a range of side effects. Overdosage may induce toxicity,’ said Thapliyal. 

She said there have been reports on misuse of efavirenz for recreational purposes due to its psychedelic effects allegedly similar to LSD. Analysis of this drug is thus considered essential for quality control, drug screening and to attain optimum therapeutic concentration, while minimising the risk of overdosage.  Hence, the development of a simple and sensitive method for the determination of efavirenz is of high importance and interest.

The study used an electrochemical method for drug analysis, ‘Electrochemical techniques are the method of choice since they are fast, simple, inexpensive, highly sensitive and do not require tedious extraction or pre-treatment processes during sample analysis.’

According to Thapliyal, the study displayed a novel efficient protocol for the sensitive and selective quantification of efavirenz in pharmaceutical formulations and human urine samples.

‘The sensor can be used for quality control purpose and in clinical analysis. Having cheaper but efficient methods of drug analysis would reduce the financial burden on the patients and society, in general,’ she said.

The lab based study was conducted in the Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry Research Group (SMCRG) Lab on UKZN’s Westville campus.

Thapliyal is currently working on developing a nanoparticles based biosensors for detection of infectious diseases.

India-born Thapliyal enjoys reading books. Spending quality time with her husband, Pankaj and her daughter, Nimisha, keeps her going.

Nombuso Dlamini