The abuse of illicit drugs has become a global concern considering the widespread use of these substances and the consequences it has on societies. The current methods used to quickly detect drugs on-site, such as color-tests, are presumptive tests and they lack selectivity, giving a high number of false negative and false positive results, due to the presence of adulterants and cutting agents. Their characterization is important from a forensic point of view, in order to link different seizures to one original batch, as well as from a toxicological point of view, for the health implications some of them might have. The purpose of the study was the development of a sensitive method for the detection of cathinones and their adulterants/cutting agents in street samples. The electrochemical fingerprinting was performed by means of square wave voltammetry using nanomaterials-modified electrodes. Several platforms were tested (graphene, carbon nanotubes, gold nanoparticles, platinum nanoparticles) and depending on the obtained signal for the oxidation of drugs, graphene and carbon-nanotubes based platforms were chosen to further test the cathinones. Several cathinones, such as methcathinone, chloroetcathinone were tested, as well as several adulterants/cutting agents such as procaine, benzocaine, creatine and mannitol, sorbitol, respectively. The effectiveness of the developed method was tested for the detection of drugs in simulated drugs samples. Electrochemical methods proved to be excellent techniques for the fast determination of drugs with high sensitivity and speciﬁcity, suitable for the development of miniaturized portable devices to be used in-ﬁeld.
Acknowledgements: This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 833787, BorderSens.