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3 May 2011, 15:33 | Updated: 3 May 2011, 15:42
Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University say an ingredient found in ecstasy pills can cause serious liver and kidney damage.
Specialists at the university's Cambridge campus say Benzylpiperazine, or BZP, is toxic to the body's cells.
BZP has replaced MDMA as the main ingredient in ecstasy.
Professor Mike Cole, who helped lead the research, said: "The market for and abuse of clandestinely synthesised designer drugs has increased significantly over the last decade and this has been accompanied by an increase in the number of reports of death and serious illnesses related to the ingestion of these substances."
"Before our research there had been no systematic study of the toxicity of these drugs and this is needed if we are to treat drug users effectively and inform people of the potential hazards associated with taking them."