Chromatographic analysis and survey studies to evaluate the emerging drugs of synthetic cannabinoids in Scotland and Saudi Arabia

Aldlgan, Abdulaziz (2016) Chromatographic analysis and survey studies to evaluate the emerging drugs of synthetic cannabinoids in Scotland and Saudi Arabia. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists or more commonly known as synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) were originally created to obtain the medicinal value of THC but they are an emerging social problem. SCs are mostly produced coated on herbal materials or in powder form and marketed under a variety of brand names, e.g. “Spice”, “K2”. Despite many SCs becoming controlled under drug legislation, many of them remain legal in some countries around the world. In Scotland, SCs are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 that only cover a few early SCs. In Saudi Arabia, even fewer are controlled. The picture of the SCs-problem in Scotland is vague due to insufficient prevalence data, particularly that using biological samples. Whilst there is evidence of increasing use of SCs throughout the world, in Saudi Arabia, there is currently no data regarding the use of products containing SCs among Saudi people. Several studies indicate that SCs may cause serious toxicity and impairment to health therefore it is important to understand the scale of use within society.
A simple and sensitive method was developed for the simultaneous analysis of 10 parent SCs (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-250, JWH-200, AM-1248, UR-144, A-796260, AB-FUBINACA, 5F-AKB-48 and 5F-PB-22) in whole blood and 8 corresponding metabolites (JWH-018 4-OH pentyl, JWH-073 3-OH butyl, JWH-250 4-OH pentyl, AM-2201 4-OH pentyl, JWH-122 5-OH pentyl, JWH-210 5-OH pentyl, 5F-AKB-48 (N-4 OH pentyl), 5F-PB-22 3-carboxyindole)in urine using LLE and LC-MS/MS. The method was validated according to the standard practices for method validation in forensic toxicology (SWGTOX, May 2013). All analytes gave acceptable precision, linearity and recovery for analysing blood and urine samples. The method was applied to 1,496 biological samples, a mixture of whole blood and urine.
Blood and/or urine samples were analysed from 114 patients presenting at Accident and Emergency in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, in spring 2014 and JuneDecember 2015. 5F-AKB-48, 5F-PB-22 and MDMB-CHMICA were detected in 9, 7 and 9 cases respectively. 904 urine samples from individuals admitted to/liberated from Scottish prisons over November 2013 were tested for the presence of SCs. 5F-AKB-48 (N-4 OH pentyl) was detected in 10 cases and 5F-PB-22 3-carboxyindole in 3 cases. Blood and urine samples from two post-mortem cases in Scotland with suspected ingestion of SCs were analysed. Both cases were confirmed positive for 5F-AKB-48. A total of 463 urine samples were collected from personnel who presented to the Security Forces Hospital in Ryiadh for workplace drug testing as a requirement for their job during July 2014. The results of the analysis found 2 samples to be positive for 5F-PB-22 3carboxyindole.
A further study in Saudi Arabia using a questionnaire was carried out among 3 subpopulations: medical professionals, members of the public in and around smoking cafes and known drug users. With regards to general awareness of Spice products, 16%, 11% and 22% of those participants of medical professionals, members of the public in and around smoking cafes and known drug users, respectively, were aware of the existence of SCs or Spice products. The respondents had an overall average of 4.5% who had a friend who used these Spice products.
It is clear from the results obtained in both blood and urine testing and surveys that SCs are being used in both Scotland and Saudi Arabia. The extent of their use is not clear and the data presented here is an initial look into their prevalence. Blood and urine findings suggest changing trends in SC use, moving away from JWH and AM SCs to the newer 5F-AKB-48, 5-F-PB-22 and MDMBCHMICA compounds worldwide. In both countries 5F-PB-22 was detected. These findings clarify how the SCs phenomenon is a worldwide problem and how the information of every country regarding what SCs are seized can help and is not specific for that country. The analytes included in the method were selected due to their apparent availability in both countries, however it is possible that some newer analytes have been used and these would not have been detected. For this reason it is important that methods for testing SCs are updated regularly and evolve with the ever-changing availability of these drugs worldwide. In addition, there is little published literature regarding the concentrations of these drugs found in blood and urine samples and this work goes some way towards understanding these.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Synthetic cannabinoids, spice, LC-MS/MS.
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Supervisor's Name: Torrance, Dr. Hazel
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr A A ALDLGAN
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7579
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2016 07:53
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2017 07:39
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