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Screening of "Legal Highs" in Oral Fluid

22 September 2014

A class of hallucinatory designer drugs have been successfully detected from oral fluid using ISOLUTE® SLE+ 96 well plates. The method was developed in a joint effort between Arcadia University, The Center for Forensic Science Research and Education, Phytronix Technologies and Biotage, and was presented at the Triangle Area Mass Spectrometry Discussion Group (TAMS) meeting on September 11th. 


NBOMes are a class of novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) marketed as “legal highs.” NBOMes are derived from substituted phenethylamines in the 2C series of analytes. The 2C series contain methoxy groups on the 2 and 5 positions of a benzene ring of the phenethylamine backbone structure. NBOMes also contain a 2-methoxybenzyl on the nitrogen backbone, which results in increased substitution and ultimately potency. NBOMes are typically administered sublingually via blotter paper and often confused or misrepresented as LSD. The general effects include hallucinations, tachycardia, agitation, and seizures. Oral fluid is an emerging biological matrix because of the ability to readily obtain a sample using a noninvasive collection procedure. Oral fluid contains primarily the parent compound, which is most commonly associated with the pharmacological effects, making it an ideal matrix for the detection of NBOMe analytes.

Fast effective sample cleanup was achieved using a “load, wait, elute” approach with supported liquid extraction (SLE). The ISOLUTE® SLE+ format was employed in a 96 well format (400 μL). Relative recovery demonstrated 60-70% for both analytes yield LLOQs of 0.5 ng/mL. SLE-LDTD-MS was previously demonstrated for the screening of drugs of abuse in oral fluids.

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