Monitoring and profiling the characteristics of Novel Psychoactive Substances and their consumers in the context of the EU-MADNESS project
The EC-funded EU-MADNESS project runs from April 2014 to March 2016, and involves 12 centres in five countries. The project’s objective is to develop integrated monitoring and profiling of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in Europe in order to prevent health harms and update relevant professionals. To achieve this, its aims are to: monitor, test, profile, and feed back into education and prevention knowledge relating to the types of NPS emerging, their associated characteristics and potential harms.Workstream (WS) 1 involves collecting a range of information from various sources relating to individuals who have reported using NPSs or died from such use. Recording of such data allows ascertainment of groups exposed to specific NPSs and their associated harms, helping to formulate improved approaches to identifying and recording deaths and ‘near misses’ linked to NPS use. Criteria for the selection of molecules to investigate in depth were developed; a key one is that of serious adverse health consequences including intoxications and deaths. Protocols for data-sharing, identification of types of data sources and types of data potentially available for use were agreed. Supply of death data on a ‘real-time’ basis is ongoing in Italy, Hungary and in the UK (Scotland and Northern Ireland; England & Wales in progress). Data from these reports and other information, test-purchases, etc. are informing the choice of compounds being investigated in WS2 and WS3.In WS2 computational approaches are being developed which exploit data from both laboratory-based and hand-held Raman spectroscopy; these approaches will be used to estimate or predict information regarding NPS. WS3 comprises: in vitro neurochemical testing of NPS in rat brain slices, aorta; in vivo neurochemical testing in whole rats; and in vivo behavioural testing in rat models of drug abuse. The most interesting of the NPSs, determined by these in vitro assays, are being examined using in vivo dopamine and 5-HT efflux in the accumbens using microdialysis. Long-term effects of selected NPS on rodent cognitive function will be also examined. Some initial findings will be presented.Information from these activities will be disseminated via WS4, with appropriate interpretation and guidance, to different stake-holders including those involved in health professionals’ training.