New results from collaboration with PJ

Instituto Superior Técnico participated in the investigation by the Judiciary Police (PJ) that led to the detection of a new synthetic drug, N-desethyl-isotonitazene, following a seizure of thousands of fake oxycodone tablets, as announced by the security force on February 6th. To identify this substance, the PJ's Scientific Police Laboratory (LPC) counted on the collaboration of Alexandra Antunes.

According to Alexandra, “the identification of this new synthetic drug is extremely important”, since “without its identification, the forensic authorities cannot control it and, when overdose cases arrive at the hospital, it is not possible to identify the agent cause, creating difficulties in treatment.” The toxicity of the substance is highlighted by PJ – “its consumption evokes feelings of euphoria followed by drowsiness, causing blockage of the respiratory system, which is the main cause of death from overdose”.

“My task was to analyze and characterize this new substance using high-resolution mass spectrometry, both in mixtures obtained by extraction from tablets and after isolation”, explains Alexandra Antunes. This work was developed in the mass spectrometry laboratory at CQE, together with researchers from FCUL, that collaborated with PJ. “It’s a very enriching work that fills me with pride”, says the researcher. “It is a clear example of collaboration between public institutions, where there is a common effort and technical means to solve concrete problems in society”, she adds.

Alexandra Antunes has worked with the LPC since 2017, having in 2020 been appointed by a judicial authority as an expert in the PJ's National Counter-Terrorism Unit.

In the field of ‘New Psychoactive Substances’, several scientific publications have already been made, and Técnico master’s theses have been developed in collaboration with the LPC. 

Photo by Débora Rodrigues / Técnico

Published/edited: 15/02/2024