UCT SPE sorbents and the Newer Psychoactive Compounds (NPS)

June 10th, 2016 Sample Preparation News

Among the challenges that now face forensic toxicologists is the extraction, confirmation, and quantification of synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones, many of which are new to both the enforcement agencies and analysts alike. Synthetic cannabinoids are defined as designer drugs that are chemically different from the chemicals in cannabis but which are sold with claims that they will provide similar effects. When these chemicals are sprayed or otherwise soaked into a base material which is often plant-derived, the finished product is sometimes misleadingly called synthetic marijuana. These products are often sold for recreational drug use to avoid being classified as illegal There are several psychoactive artificial cannabinoid families (e.g. JWH, AM, HU, and CP) that are sold under brand names like K2 and spice, both of which are now used as generic terms used for any synthetic cannabinoid product.

Synthetic cathinones are compounds derived structurally from  Cathinone(also known as β-keto-amphetamine), a monoamine alkaloid found in the shrub Catha edulis (khat) that is chemically similar to ephedrinecathinemethcathinone and other amphetamines.. Cathinone differs from many other amphetamines in that it has a ketone functional group. Other phenethylamines that share this structure include the stimulants methcathinoneMDPV/PDV, mephedrone which also fall under the category of Newer Psychoactive Compounds (NPS)

UCT is at the cutting edge of not only developing methods/applications for these two emerging classes of compounds, but also supporting forensic toxicologists with their analysis through the use of Silica Clean Screen® THC and DAU sorbents and polymeric HLD sorbent  These chemical phases can be supplied in 1, 3, 6  and 10 mL formats with 50 to 200 mg bed masses in addition to well plate formats (48/96). 

Analysis of NPS compounds have been reported in peer reviewed articles:


  1. Liveri, K., et al., (2016)

    Forensic Science International 265: 160-165.


  2. Lee, D., et al.,  (2015)

    Journal of Analytical Toxicology 39: 567-571.


  3. Jang, M., et al., (2014)

    Forensic Science International 244: 85-91.


  4. Hackett, J., and Elian, A.A., (2014)

    Drug Testing and Analysis 6: 389-395.


  5. Poklis, J.L., et al.,  (2014)

    Forensic Science International 234: e14-e20.


  6. Wyman, J. F., et al., (2013)

    Journal of Analytical Toxicology 37: 182-185.


  7. Johnson, R.D., et al., (2013)

    Journal of Analytical Toxicology 37:51-55.


  8. Penn, H.J., et al., (2011)

    Clinical Biochemistry 44:1163-1165. 

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