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Title Comprehensive Forensic Toxicological Analysis of Designer Drugs
Publication Date
Degree PhD
Discipline/Department Chemistry
Degree Level doctoral
University/Publisher Florida International University
Abstract New designer drugs are constantly emerging onto the illicit drug market and it is often difficult to validate and maintain comprehensive analytical methods for accurate detection of these compounds. Generally, toxicology laboratories utilize a screening method, such as immunoassay, for the presumptive identification of drugs of abuse. When a positive result occurs, confirmatory methods, such as gas chromatography (GC) or liquid chromatography (LC) coupled with mass spectrometry (MS), are required for more sensitive and specific analyses. In recent years, the need to study the activities of these compounds in screening assays as well as to develop confirmatory techniques to detect them in biological specimens has been recognized. Severe intoxications and fatalities have been encountered with emerging designer drugs, presenting analytical challenges for detection and identification of such novel compounds. The first major task of this research was to evaluate the performance of commercially available immunoassays to determine if designer drugs were cross-reactive. The second major task was to develop and validate a confirmatory method, using LC-MS, to identify and quantify these designer drugs in biological specimens. Cross-reactivity towards the cathinone derivatives was found to be minimal. Several other phenethylamines demonstrated cross-reactivity at low concentrations, but results were consistent with those published by the assay manufacturer or as reported in the literature. Current immunoassay-based screening methods may not be ideal for presumptively identifying most designer drugs, including the “bath salts.” For this reason, an LC-MS based confirmatory method was developed for 32 compounds, including eight cathinone derivatives, with limits of quantification in the range of 1-10 ng/mL. The method was fully validated for selectivity, matrix effects, stability, recovery, precision, and accuracy. In order to compare the screening and confirmatory techniques, several human specimens were analyzed to demonstrate the importance of using a specific analytical method, such as LC-MS, to detect designer drugs in serum as immunoassays lack cross-reactivity with the novel compounds. Overall, minimal cross-reactivity was observed, highlighting the conclusion that these presumptive screens cannot detect many of the designer drugs and that a confirmatory technique, such as the LC-MS, is required for the comprehensive forensic toxicological analysis of designer drugs.
Subjects/Keywords designer drugs; toxicology; LC-MS; ELISA; EMIT; cross-reactivity; cathinone derivatives; forensic toxicology; bath salts; Analytical Chemistry; Toxicology
Contributors Anthony DeCaprio; Piero Gardinali; W. Lee Hearn; Jaroslava Mikšovská; Georg Petroianu
Country of Publication us
Record ID oai:digitalcommons.fiu.edu:etd-2116
Repository fiu
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2020-01-06
Created Date 2013-10-21 07:00:00

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…of the research, drugs were chosen based on prevalence in literature reports, DEA schedule, and availability as standards. Focus was placed on cathinone derivatives, or “bath salts,” as their occurrence in society has been on the rise. Table 1 details…

…compounds fall into three major classes: phenethylamines, tryptamines, and piperazines, as seen in Figure 1.(20) The βketo-phenethylamine derivatives, analogs of cathinone, have been on the rise in the last few years, often sold as “bath salts” or…

…Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) was the first to ring the alarm about “bath salts.” In 2011 alone, their 57 call centers received over 6,000 calls about exposures to these compounds, followed by almost 3,000 calls in 2012 (…