UROS 2017 Project: Development and validation of a new Microcrystalline test for the identification of 6-APB and it’s Isomers

By Ryan Senior


During my UROS project this summer, I have successfully designed, developed and validated a new method of microcrystalline identification for 5 Structural APB isomers, otherwise known as ‘benzo fury’, a popular legal high during the recent wave of designer drugs and novel psychoactive substances that stormed European drug markets. Building on the work I had previously done during my 3rd year research project, I was able to gain invaluable laboratory experience and work closely with new equipment that I had only briefly used before during my degree. I also learned much more about scientific research and the process of method validation and scientific paper writing.

Over the course of the summer I was tasked with a range of different jobs which were needed to complete the project. For example, I had to work with a number of different drug solutions. Not only did I get to work with the drugs of interest to develop my method, but also other common drugs of abuse to determine that the crystals I was creating were specific to the compounds I was testing. From this I produced a comprehensive list which proved my observations were unique to the drugs I was testing and therefore suitable for this method of analysis. From this I also got to learn about how drugs are properly handled in research settings and was able to see the street drug samples that the university currently have access to, which is useful knowledge to carry me into potential research/drug analysis careers. I also had to determine the limits of detection for each APB isomer and investigate the effect of common cutting agents, such as caffeine and glucose, which yielded a number of interesting results.

I was also able to use a polarising light microscope and a Raman spectrometer to further characterise my results. I have had little experience with this equipment so far from my university studies, and having personal experience of using them was both enjoyable and has broadened my knowledge and skill set.

Another valuable experience I have gained from this project is that of writing a scientific paper. I am currently writing my results into a paper for submission to the journal Drug Testing and Analysis. The process has helped me refine my writing skills, improving my skill to use concise language and communicate ideas and results effectively. I have been able to gain hands-on experience with new software such as adobe acrobat and Photoshop. It has also allowed me to deepen my scientific understanding and knowledge, and I believe that this experience will be of great use to me whatever career path I may choose.


*To view Ryan’s project poster, please click on the thumbnail below