Monitoring drug concentration in blood and reflecting this in the dosage are crucial for safe and effective drug treatment. Most drug assays are based on total concentrations of bound and unbound proteins in the serum, although only the unbound concentration causes beneficial and adverse events. Monitoring the unbound concentration alone is expected to provide a means for further optimisation of drug treatment. However, unbound concentration monitoring has not been routinely used for drug treatment due to the long analysis time and the high cost of conventional methods. Here, we have developed a rapid electrochemical method to determine the unbound concentration in ultrafiltered human serum using boron-doped diamond (BDD) electrodes. When the anticancer drug doxorubicin was used as the test drug, the catalytic doxorubicin-mediated reduction of dissolved oxygen provided a sensitive electrochemical signal, with a detection limit of 0.14 nM. In contrast, the sensitivity of glassy carbon (GC) was inferior under the same conditions due to interference from the dissolved oxygen reduction current. The signal background ratio (S/B) of BDD and GC was 11.5 (10 nM doxorubicin) and 1.1 (50 nM), respectively. The results show that a fast measurement time within ten seconds is possible in the clinical concentration range. Additionally, in the ultrafiltered human serum, the obtained values of unbound doxorubicin concentration showed good agreement with those quantified by conventional liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. This approach has the potential for application in clinical settings where rapid and simple analysis methods would be beneficial.
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