An Eye on Spice
Meeting the need for rapid detection of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists - introducing Chris Pudney (University of Bath, UK) and his portable analyzer
Matthew Hallam | | Interview
What is your research focus?
We focus on synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists, which are so-called “novel psychoactive substances” and collectively referred to as “Spice.” They mimic some of the active compounds in cannabis by interacting with endocannabinoid receptors, but do so with increased potency and exert enhanced effects. Interestingly, these compounds – which share some structural similarities with compounds from the plant – potentially also act on different receptors in the body, meaning their effects are difficult to predict.
The actual chemistry or strength of these products is often not known, which presents a serious problem – an accidental overdose of the wrong synthetic compound could lead to, for example, a stroke, or send them to the emergency room. It is also difficult to discern exactly what drug a patient on suspected Spice may have taken, so there’s an acute need for a point-of-care test from both health and harm reduction perspectives. That’s the overarching aim of our work.
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