Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Mohammed Abdul Ruhman Almeetani

Second Advisor

Dr. Soleiman Hisaindee

Third Advisor

Dr. Mohammad Abu Haija


This thesis is concerned with a new class of drugs known as synthetic cathinones, which overruns the drug markets in recent years as “legal highs” drugs, under different commercial names such as bath salts. All synthetic cathinone derivatives consist of a chiral center and usually sold out as a racemic mixture. Usually, one of the two enantiomers will have stronger central nervous system (CNS) stimulatory activity and the other one may have no significant CNS activity or addictive properties. A new sensitive and selective analytical method was developed for the simultaneous determination of ten synthetic cathinones enantiomers in spiked urine samples by gas chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry GCNCI- MS/MS. Multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode was used for synthetic cathinones enantiomers identification and quantification in the presence of 3-MMC as an internal standard. The method adopted the indirect chiral separation of the synthetic cathinone enantiomers using methyl chloroformate (MCF) as the chiral derivatizing agent (CDA).

Solid-phase extraction (SPE) was used for urine samples clean up followed by derivatization step using MCF prior to gas chromatography analysis. The developed method was validated in terms of linearity, sensitivity, intraday and interday reproducibility, and recovery for all tested spiked urine samples. The method showed linearity and good correlation coefficient (R2) values higher than 0.98 within the tested range of 0.5 to 50 ppm for all synthetic cathinones enantiomers spiked in the urine. The limits of quantitation in urine were 0.012 – 9.536 ppm and for limits of detection was 0.004 – 3.147 ppm. For reproducibility, the mean value of the coefficient of variance was below 12.3%. The mean recovery error was below 12%.

The developed method can be used in forensic laboratories for separation and quantitative determination of synthetic cathinones enantiomers in urine samples. The separated and quantified enantiomers can provide information regarding the sources of these drugs and the raw materials used to create them to help law enforcement agencies with drug tracking.

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Chemistry Commons