Overview

Welcome to the NPS Discovery toolkit developed for RTI’s Center for Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) and the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE) at the Fredric Rieders Family Foundation.

The purpose of the toolkit is to help navigate experienced toxicologists through the process of deciding 1) how to update their NPS analytical scope; 2) how to design and optimize analytical methods; 3) how to validate methods efficiently and in line with recommended best practices; and finally 4) how to implement some strategies for interpretation when these drugs appear in casework.

NPS Discovery Toolkit for Designing and Implementing Testing for New and Emerging Psychoactive Drugs

General Advice and Guidance: An FAQ will walk the reader through where to get started and answer questions like: What are challenges of NPS method development and validation; What is the state of the art, and; What are some of the key resources to get me started?

Surveillance and Scope: In an environment where the potential scope of analysis is changing all the time, how do we stay current; what resources can we turn to for prioritizing research and development; and what is the appropriate schedule for updating our analytical methods?

Targeted Method Development: Various approaches to method development and the pro’s and con’s of selecting the appropriate analytical platforms will be introduced. The resources range from a basic review of chromatographic method development, to specific case studies for synthetic cannabinoids, novel opioids, and stimulants.

Validation: In today’s forensic environment, with thorough scrutiny of results in the courtroom, it is not enough to have a method, we also have to document its performance and limitations, as well as the stability of the drug in the matrices we expect to test. One guaranteed thing in forensic analysis is the need to expect the unexpected, so how do we address testing in a matrix for which the method has not been validated? This section explains with worked examples, and a workbook template how to design your validation study, collect and organize your data, and conclude that the method meets the need. We also describe the approach of standard addition in which the subject’s sample acts as its own matrix control, for those difficult cases.

Toxicological Interpretation: Sample analysis does not end with reporting the result. We must be able to provide guidance to the user of the toxicological testing service about what that result means. This section will discuss resources and approaches for toxicological interpretation of new substances and the appropriate weighting to give to your opinions when there is little or no reference data to assist with interpretation.

A certificate of completion is available for all who complete all activities pertaining to the NPS Discovery Toolkit.

Access the toolkit by clicking the button below.
NPS Discovery Toolkit

Contributors

Barry K. Logan, PhD, F-ABFT: Executive Director at the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE)
Sherri Kacinko, PhD: Toxicologist and Adjunct Professor
Jeri Ropero-Miller, PhD: Chief Scientist for Applied Justice Research at RTI International
Fran Diamond: Technical Leader in the Criminalistics division of NMS labs
Amanda Mohr, MSFS, D-ABFT-FT: Forensic Scientist III
Alex Krotulski, MSFS: Research Scientist II
Melissa Fogarty, MSFS, D-ABFT-FT: Laboratory Support Scientist