MDAI also known as 5,6-Methylenedioxy-2-aminoindane is a drug developed in the 1990s by a team led by David E. Nichols at Purdue University. It acts as a non-neurotoxic and highly selective serotonin releasing agent (SSRA) in vitro and produces entactogen effects in humans.
The chemical structure of MDAI is indirectly derived from that of the illicit drug MDA, but the alpha-methyl group of the alkylamino amphetamine side chain has been bound back to the benzene nucleus to form an indane ring system, which changes its pharmacological properties substantially.
MDAI can be produced from 3-(3,4-Methylenedioxyphenyl)propionic acid which is converted to the acid chloride and then heated to produce 5,6-Methylenedioxy-1-indanone. Treatment of the indanone with amyl nitrite in methanol with HC1 afforded the hydroxyimino ketone. This is reduced to the 2-aminoindan following a modification of Nichols’ earlier method from a paper discussing DOM analogues, using a Pd/C catalyst in glacial acetic acid with catalytic H2SO4.