For several years organo-germanium containing medicine has been used for special treatments of e.g. cancer and AIDS. The active substances contain germanium as beta-carboxyethylgermanium sesquioxide ((GeCH2CH 2COO-H)2O3/"Ge-132"), spirogermanium, germanium-lactate-citrate or unspecified forms. For humans, germanium is not essential and in general the toxicity of the mentioned organo-germanium compounds is low. Acute and chronic toxic effects of inorganic germanium dioxide have been demonstrated. It is obvious that especially inorganic germanium has a higher potential of negative effects. Therefore, a widespread analytical product control is indispensable. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is the preferred technique and different applications were developed for controlling various parameters: (i) A speciation method using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled with quadrupole (Q-) ICP-MS was developed for the identification of organo-germanium species in medicine. (ii) The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technique was applied to confirm the molecular structure and to determine the molecule concentration. (iii) The total concentration of germanium in the medicine was determined in the diluted sample by high resolution (HR-) ICP-MS. (iv) For a general overview, a multi-element screening method of 56 elements with HR-ICP-MS was developed. The semi-quantitative mode was used for quantification and elements of higher abundance are reported. (v) Investigations about matrix-based interferences on masses of isotopes, which are generally determinable without remarkable problems. Isotopes like e.g. 85Rb, 88Sr, 89Y, 90Zr, 93Nb and the isotopes of Ba are strongly interfered by different Ge-based molecules and need to be analysed in a higher resolution mode than used for other common matrices.
- Beta-carboxyethylgermanium sesquioxide
- Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry