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Emerging use of isotope ratio mass spectrometry as a tool for discrimination of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine by synthetic route

Buchanan, Hilary A.S. and Daeid, N.N. and Meier-Augenstein, Wolfram and Kemp, Helen F. and Kerr, W.J. and Middleditch, Michael (2008) Emerging use of isotope ratio mass spectrometry as a tool for discrimination of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine by synthetic route. Analytical Chemistry, 80 (9). pp. 3350-3356. ISSN 0003-2700

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Abstract

Drug profiling, or the ability to link batches of illicit drugs to a common source or synthetic route, has long been a goal of law enforcement agencies. Research in the past decade has explored drug profiling with isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS). This type of research can be limited by the use of substances seized by police, of which the provenance is unknown. Fortunately, however, some studies in recent years have been carried out on drugs synthesized in-house and therefore of known history. In this study, 18 MDMA samples were synthesized in-house from aliquots of the same precursor by three common reductive amination routes and analyzed for C-13, N-15, and H-2 isotope abundance using IRMS. For these three preparative methods, results indicate that H-2 isotope abundance data is necessary for discrimination by synthetic route. Furthermore, hierarchical cluster analysis using H-2 data on its own or combined with C-13 and/or N-15 provides a statistical means for accurate discrimination by synthetic route.