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Improved Detection of Kratom Alkalids in Forensic Toxicology

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $47,186)

As submitted by the proposer: Kratom is an emerging recreational drug that is derived from the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa. It presents a significant challenge to forensic toxicologists in terms of analysis and interpretation. Although the United States Drug Enforcement Administration lists Kratom as a "drug of concern", it is widely available via the Internet and through retail outlets. Estimates from the National Forensic Laboratory Information System indicate a ten-fold increase in Kratom reports between 2011 and 2014. The drug is used for recreational purposes and for the self-management of pain and opioid withdrawal. Fatal intoxications involving the drug have been reported and additional research is needed to assist forensic laboratories identify its use in biological evidence. The major alkaloids in Mitragyna speciosa include mitragynine (MG), paynantheine (PY), speciogynine (SG), 7 -hydroxymitragynine (7-0H-MG) and speciociliatine (SC). Although mitragynine is reported to be the most abundant alkaloid, 7 -hydroxymitragynine has increased potency, more than ten-fold greater than that of morphine. Unregulated use can result in serious health and public safety consequences. The criminal justice system relies upon forensic toxicology laboratories to determine the presence of drugs and/or poisons in death investigations and criminal investigations. This study proposes to develop and optimize analytical methodology for use in forensic toxicology laboratories; explore stability, metabolites and their optimal identification; and identify the most valuable markers for Kratom use using authentic samples. Solid phase extraction and liquid chromatography/ quadrupole time of flight (LC-Q-TOF) mass spectrometry will be used to isolate and identify MG, 7-0H-MG, PY, SG and SC in biological samples. The influence of temperature and pH on stability of these compounds will be investigated. Due to the absence of commercially available materials, metabolites will be generated in-vitro. Authentic samples from Kratom users, including fatal intoxications will be used to identify compounds of interest and the distribution of these substances will be investigated in various fluids and tissues. It is anticipated that this study will produce between four and five publishable papers in peer reviewed scientific journals. The project will take place over a period of 36 months. Instrument data and scientific data will be stored electronically and protected from unauthorized access in accordance with institutional policies. Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf

Date Created: August 2, 2016