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Detecting Designer Drugs in the Lab: SHSU Graduate Student Kayla Ellfsen is researching a test to detect designer drugs in bath salts in the crime lab.

Detecting 'Bath Salt' Designer Drugs in the Lab

In October 2011 the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Forensic Science Foundation (FSF) funded a capstone project proposal in the Master of Forensic Science Program to investigate the designer drugs known as “Bath Salts” (beta-keto-amphetamines or BKAs).

Designer drugs have posed a challenge for law enforcement and forensic scientists for decades, but more recently the proliferation of analogs has overwhelmed the scientific community, in large part due to the internet. The majority of BKA designer drugs are derived from cathinone, the active ingredient of Khat (Catha edulis), a plant native to Africa and the Middle East. Synthesis of these drugs is readily accomplished by clandestine chemists, making it an appealing drug for the designer drug market.


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