Mystery bag. Unknown drug found on the streets of Australia

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A mysterious bag. A drug unknown to science was found on the streets of Australia

An anonymous person who brought ketamine helped discover a new kind of drug

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It's hard to think of a place where you can go with a small transparent bag containing a test powder. However, in Australia there is a personal drug testing service – CanTEST.

During one of the tests of ketamine, chemists discovered a special drug. It has never been seen before in Australia. In addition, there was no clinical information around the world, writes Science Alert.

Identification of “chemical X”

Identification of new psychoactive substances – drugs similar to conventional illicit drugs – is a major challenge in pill testing. Each chemical has its own special “fingerprint”. It is entered into the database for analysts.

However, this time there was nothing. Patrick Yates, PhD from the Australian National University's Research School of Chemistry, ran a sample through the first piece of equipment: a Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer. It contained a database of more than 30,000 chemicals.

After analysis, it was suggested that this ketamine might just be a new analog called 2-fluorodeschloroketamine (2-FDCK). But Patrick hesitated. Then his graduate student turned to a photodiode array ultra-high-performance chromatography (UPLC-PDA) instrument. The result was a sample similar to ketamine.

However, there was something wrong. The rate at which chemical X developed (known as containment time) was similar. But UV absorption was disabled.

We found that neither ketamine nor 2-FDCK was present. And the drug was “clean” and new.

Mysterious bag. An unknown drug was found on the streets of Australia

Mysterious sachet. On drug unknown to science found on the streets of Australia

More tests after the doubt

Castor oil is an invaluable emergency medicine. It is also included in the group of illegal drugs. The substance was recognized as “kemamin-like”. The person who brought it was advised to be careful.

After that, chemical X was subjected to a method called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), that is, the sample was made for the “other race” and then was broken into pieces to get a further fingerprint. The GC/MS data correlated closely with the ketamine derivative known as fluorexetamine, but the presence of an isomer—two compounds with the same molecular formula but arranged differently—cannot be ruled out.

Lastly, we turned to the nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. After tests, it turned out that it was not fluorexetamine. Chemical X was a compound called 2'-fluoro-2-oxo-phenylcyclohexyletylamine.

Never seen before.

New compound called CanKet

Chemists have contacted important international drug monitoring organizations around the world. Independent institutions have confirmed the results of the experiment. The team named the new substance CanKet as “Canberra Ketamine”. The full effect of the drug is not yet known.