Rapid Separation and Characterization of Cocaine and Cocaine Cutting Agents by Differential Mobility Spectrometry–Mass Spectrometry

Authors

  • Adam B. Hall M.S.,

    1. Boston University School of Medicine, Biomedical Forensic Sciences, 72 East Concord Street, L-1004, Boston, MA 02118.
    2. Northeastern University Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, 360 Huntington Avenue, 102 Hurtig Hall, Boston, MA 02115.
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  • Stephen L. Coy Ph.D.,

    1. Northeastern University Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, 360 Huntington Avenue, 102 Hurtig Hall, Boston, MA 02115.
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  • Erkinjon G. Nazarov Ph.D.,

    1. Draper Bioengineering Center at USF, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Suite 201, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33612-9220.
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  • Paul Vouros Ph.D.

    1. Northeastern University Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, 360 Huntington Avenue, 102 Hurtig Hall, Boston, MA 02115.
    2. Northeastern University Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis, 360 Huntington Avenue, 341 Mugar Hall, Boston, MA 02115.
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Additional information and reprint requests:
Adam B. Hall, M.S.
Instructor of Forensic Chemistry
Boston University School of Medicine
Biomedical Forensic Sciences Program
72 East Concord Street, L-1004
Boston, MA 02118-2526
E-mail: adamhall@bu.edu

Abstract

Abstract:  Forensic drug laboratories are inundated with cases requiring time-consuming GC- or LC-based chromatographic separations of submitted samples. High-throughput analytical methods would be of great practical utility within forensic drug analysis. Recently developed ion-mobility-based separation methods combined with mass spectrometry can often be used without chromatography, suppress chemical interferents of similar mass, and operate in seconds. We have evaluated differential mobility spectrometry–mass spectrometry (DMS-MS) for performance on adulterated cocaine mixtures. The DMS interface is only a few centimeters in length, operates in seconds, and can be adapted to any MS system using atmospheric pressure ionization. Drug cutting agents, typical targets such as cocaine, and drug metabolites are rapidly separated by the DMS ion prefilter. Tests demonstrated characterization of complex mixtures, such as isolation of levamisole, an adulterant with alarming side effects, from a 13-component mixture. DMS-MS holds great potential for the analysis of drug samples submitted for forensic analysis.

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