New Psychoactive Substances (NPS): automated identification and quantification


One challenge of border control authorities and police forces across the globe is keeping pace with illicit drugs termed New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), also referred to as ‘legal highs’.

Analytical methods must deliver unambiguous identification of suspicious substances, and there must be proper quantification of seized compounds, providing robust enough data for submission and use in legal proceedings.

In this webinar, speakers explore novel methods developed on benchtop Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and based on a comprehensive and automatic identification and quantification workflow for the analysis of suspicious mixtures, including push-button operation and report generation.

The plague of NPS

It is widely recognized within law enforcement that fighting widespread substance abuse is a constant battle and one with a number of complexities.

It was reported by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) that 1,124 different compounds were found by 24 January 2022, across 135 countries.

Automated NMR workflow for identification and quantification now available for forensic laboratories

It is widely accepted worldwide that the application of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is ideal for analyzing suspicious material on a molecular level. It is clear that this key technology has the advantage of both targeted and untargeted identification and quantification of known and unknown substances.

During the webinar, attendees will discover how the quantification of illicit substances, even in a mixture, is done by NMR without the need of compound specific reference material. A new method has recently been developed using benchtop Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR).  In conjunction with Fourier CrimeLab Narcotics Profiler, narcotics laboratories now have access to a robust and comprehensive automated workflow for identifying and quantifying substances, including report generation and push-button operation. This means that a specific infrastructure, user expertise, and investment requirements are no longer required.

Distributed laboratory topology

A new multi-level topology in the field of forensic analysis has been introduced as a result of Bruker’s high-resolution NMR spectrometers at central scientific centers, combined with their benchtop NMR spectrometers located at local governmental satellite laboratories.

NMR operators have been freed up to support any type of analysis, even remotely, thanks to the NMR software package TopSpin. Even untrained NMR users can use the new Narcotics Profiler and make customizable, pre-defined data acquisition choices in the GoScan software.

A new platform is provided for consistent data,  to improve training synergies, and to reduce time-to-results by this multi-level topology with international or national connected laboratories and harmonized methodologies.

Key learning objectives

  • How NMR applies in forensic analysis for non-expert use
  • How narcotic analysis methods can be harmonized
  • How exchange of expertise is enabled by distributed lab topology
  • How the open database can tailor the solution to adapt to new threats quickly

Who should attend?

Any forensic and commercial analytical lab operators interested in analytical automated report-based methods to tackle the scourge of New Psychoactive Substances.

Webinar speakers

Dr. Joerg Koehler studied physics and holds a doctoral degree from the Institute of Biophysics and Physical Biochemistry of the University of Regensburg. Dr. Koehler’s research focused primarily on High-Pressure-NMR based studies of folding intermediates of biochemically active macromolecules. Dr. Koehler joined Bruker as Head of Business Unit Industrial, after several positions in sales management, sales, and business administration. Today, he is responsible for Bruker’s global activities in magnetic resonance in a range of different industrial market segments, including forensics.

Dr. Marcio Fernando Cobo studied physics and has a doctoral degree from the Institute of Physics of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Cobo worked on development of diverse methods in High Resolution (Solid State and Liquid State) NMR and Time Domain NRM. He joined Bruker as a Method Developer in 2013, working on developing novel solutions to diverse fields, ranging from Narcotics Profiling to Polymer’s characterization to Food quality control.

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