First Chemistry Section

Drug abuse is a serious social problem worldwide. In Japan, the number of people arrested for stimulants is still at a high level, and those arrested for cannabis and narcotics related crimes are on the increase. Since 2011, the number of new psychoactive substances, NPS, newly appeared in illicit drug market has severely increased. Abuse of NPS is causing large number of serious incidents and traffic accidents. First chemistry section is responsible for research on the analysis of controlled drugs, forensic toxicology and related caseworks.

Research and development of drug analysis

Analytical methods have been developed for identifying various types of drugs, including those expected to be abused in the future, using the latest analytical technologies. The drug characterizations of methamphetamine and other drugs have been studied for identifying the sources of supply and trafficking routes (Drug profiling).

Portable mass spectrometer (Research & Development)
Industry-university-government research and development of the portable mass spectrometer that enables police officers to detect illicit drugs easily, rapidly and reliably at drug investigation sites.
(left: Portable mass spectrometer, right: Measurement result examples)

So-called quasi-legal drug (left) and its result from a gas chromatograph - mass spectrometer (right)

Elemental analyzer - isotope ratio mass spectrometer (left) and a graph of stable nitrogen and carbon isotopic-compositions of methamphetamine analyzed by the instrument (right).
Drug profiling is conducted based on combination of the stable isotopic compositions and the impurity profiles using gas chromatography.

Comparison of cannabis component analyzed by gas chromatograph- time of flight mass spectrometer.


Study on drug disposition

In order to demonstrate drug abuse, it is necessary to identify the drug and/or its metabolites in biological specimens obtained from the suspect. Highly-sensitive methods for drug identification in biological samples are developed and the disposition of abused drugs are investigated.

Ultra high performance liquid chromatograph-tandem quadrupole mass spectrometer.
The instrument is utilized for sensitive and reliable qualitative and quantitative analyses of illicit drugs, as well as ethical and OTC drugs in biological specimen (urine, blood, hair etc.).

Drug metabolism study using cultured hepatocytes.
(Photo: Hepatocyte spheroids on a 3D culture plate. Figure: Metabolic pathway of synthetic cannabinoid XLR-11.)

Study on drug distribution in organs (from left: a cross section of a kidney, a slice of a rat kidney, the distribution of methamphetamine in the kidney slice obtained using a matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometer, the concentrations of methamphetamine in the kidney block obtained using a liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometer).