Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is used for recreational purposes as a club drug and often leads to drug-facilitated sexual assault. GHB can cause severe cognitive dysfunction and even death when overdosed. The risks associated with a lack of quick on-site diagnostic solutions as intoxicated individuals are often left unaided due to the lack of knowledge about the cause of the toxicity. In the current market, the diagnosis of GHB toxicity or overdose almost exclusively relies on the advanced, costly research facility and laboratory equipment such as mass spectrometry operated and analyzed by skilled technicians and analyze the results. This invention describes a rapid on-site detection method for GHB.

Technology Overview

This invention describes a portable GHB detection solution for quick on-site GHB detection. It is based primarily on two recombinant enzymes of microbial sources‑ a GHB dehydrogenase (GHBDH) and NADH specific diaphorase. These enzyme systems, convert GHB to succinate semialdehyde, reduce cofactor nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) to NADH, and convert tetrazolium salts to formazans. The formazans are dyes visible spectrum at 420-480 nm depending on specific dyes applied in the reaction. The level of the produced colorimetric formazans correlates with NADH and GHB in the samples. When the color of the reaction solution is compared to a colorimetric paper strip that uses different degrees of the color to indicate different concentrations of GHB, the blood or urine GHB levels can be determined without sophisticated equipment. 



  • Rapid and accurate detection (20-30 min) 
  • Easy to use, trained professionals are not required
  • Flexibility in modifying the detection method for different applications
  • Portability 
  • Cost-effective solution 


  • This device can be used for detection of GHB in:
    • Hospitals, diagnostic centers, urgent cares&nbsp
    • Patrol teams for law enforcement
    • Private sectors such as night clubs, bars
  • Detection kit for research and other commercial applications 


  • License
  • Partnering
  • Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Vaibhav Saini
Senior Manager Commercialization
Northeastern University
Yunrong Chai
Yuxuan Qin
Healthcare Innovation
In Vitro Diagnostics