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Designer Amphetamines in Forensic Toxicology: Analysis and Prevalence

Award Information

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $226,550)

This project seeks to develop screening and confirmatory methods for new, emerging 'designer' amphetamines, using the most widely used technologies in forensic toxicological laboratories today, specifically enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The cross-reactivity of antibodies used in commercial immunoassays for methamphetamine will be examined to determine whether existing commercial immunoassays are effective screening tools for emerging designer drugs. Extraction protocols and chemical derivatives will be considered in order to develop a confirmatory analysis using GC/MS, taking into consideration existing resources that do not place an undue burden on the laboratory or require extensive familiarization. The resulting procedures will be scientifically validated according to established procedures and accreditation requirements. Such validated procedures, using commonly used technologies and methodologies, will assist in reducing case backlog in the area of forensic toxicology. Finally, prevalence of these drugs in actual forensic toxicology casework samples will be investigated.


This award will provide funding to Sam Houston State University to expand research of emerging designer amphetamines in casework, by increasing the number of targeted drugs from 10 to as many as 27, and by examining the prevalence of the targeted compounds in more case samples, from 500 cases to 2500 cases, drawn from a wider geographic area. The extension of this research will provide routine testing laboratories with practical information that will allow them to implement new analytical procedures for the detection of the newer designer amphetamines. This will reduce case backlog by allowing for testing for more compounds with one test.


Date Created: September 15, 2008