Caroline Zangani, Fabrizio Schifano*, Flavia Napoletano, Davide Arillotta, Liam Gilgar, Amira Guirguis, John M. Corkery, Orsola Gambini and Alessandro Vento Pages 966 - 1051 ( 86 )
Background: A wide range of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) is regularly searched and discussed online by web-based drug enthusiasts (i.e. the e-psychonauts). Among NPS, the range of synthetic cannabinoids (SC; ‘Spice’) currently represents a challenge for governments and clinicians.
Methods: Using a web crawler (i.e. the NPS.Finder®), the present study aimed at assessing psychonauts’ fora/platforms to better understand the online mentions of SC.
Results: The open-web crawling/navigating software identified here some 1,103 synthetic cannabinoids. Of these, 863 molecules were not listed in either the international or the European NPS databases.
Conclusion: A web crawling approach helped here in identifying a large range of unknown SC likely to possess a misuse potential. Most of these novel/emerging molecules are still relatively unknown. This is a reason for concern; each of these analogues potentially presents different toxicodynamic profiles and there is a lack of docking, preclinical, and clinical observations. Strengthening multidisciplinary collaboration between clinicians and bioinformatics may prove useful in better assessing SC-associated public health risks.
Psychonauts, NPS, new psychoactive substances, synthetic cannabinoids, web crawling.
Department of Health Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Psychopharmacology, Drug Misuse and Novel Psychoactive Substances Research Unit, School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, East London Foundation Trust (ELFT), Homerton University Hospital, London, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Psychiatry Unit, University of Catania, Catania, Gabalfa Clinic, Cardiff and Vale NHS Health Board, Cardiff, Swansea University Medical School, Institute of Life Sciences, Swansea, Psychopharmacology, Drug Misuse and Novel Psychoactive Substances Research Unit, School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Department of Health Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Department of Mental Health, School of psychology, G. Marconi, Telematic University, Rome, Italy. ASL Roma 2, Rome