Science and Technology News

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bath Salt-type Aminoketone Designer Drugs: Analytical and Synthetic Studies on Substituted Cathinones

Author: Randall Clark, Ph.D.

This project focused on issues of resolution and discriminatory capabilities in controlled substance analysis to increase reliability and selectivity for forensic evidence and analytical data on new analytes of the so-called bath salt-type drugs of abuse. The goal of this research is to provide an analytical framework for the identification of individual substituted cathinones to the exclusion of all other possible isomeric and homologous forms of these compounds.

A number of aminoketones or beta-keto/benzylketo compounds (bk-amines) have appeared on the illicit drug market in recent years including methcathinone, mephedrone, methylone and MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone). These substances represent a variety of aromatic ring substituent, hydrocarbon side chain and amino group modifications of the basic cathinone/methcathinone molecular skeleton.

The broad objective of this research was to improve the specificity, selectivity and reliability of analytical methods used to identify ring substituted aminoketones and related compounds. This improvement comes from methods which allow the forensic analyst to identify specific regioisomeric forms of substituted aminoketones among many isomers of mass spectral equivalence. Mass spectrometry is the most common method of confirmation in forensic drug analysis.

This project provides methodology and analytical data to discriminate between those regioisomeric and isobaric molecules having the same molecular weight and major fragments of equivalent mass (i.e. identical mass spectra). Furthermore, this work has anticipated the future appearance of some designer aminoketones and developed reference data and analytical reference standards for these compounds.

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