Making sense of screening for new psychoactive substances: Towards on-site receptor-based sensing of synthetic cannabinoids and opioids.

01 November 2020 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Compound screening
    • Analytical toxicology
    • Forensic toxicology
  • Engineering and technology
    • Biomedical signal processing
    • Medical biotechnology diagnostics
Onsite drug screening POCT test cannabinoid opioid biosensor ELISA surface plasmon resonance receptor-based screening
Project description

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are drugs specifically designed to circumvent legislation and detection by commonly implemented screening assays, typically immunoassays and liquid chromatography coupled to (high resolution) (tandem) mass spectrometry. With new NPS being introduced every week, it is obvious that targeted approaches, which are based on the detection of a substance’s structure, are inadequate and outside-the-box-thinking is appropriate. A promising approach, developed at UGent, utilizes activity-based screening, where all substances acting on a given receptor (e.g. cannabinoid or opioid receptor) are picked up, regardless of their structure. However, this approach still requires cell culture facilities and experienced staff, making it unfit for on-site screening. This project aims at developing a receptor-based universal screening test, suited for implementation at remote locations. To achieve this, we will immobilize cannabinoid and opioid receptors and establish procedures based on ELISA, surface plasmon resonance, and eventually point-of-care biosensor chips that will allow simultaneous screening of samples. Although we target towards eventual application on authentic biological samples, the proposed assays may also serve to investigate raw drug material. Integration in a simple, easy-to-handle and low-cost device (in collaboration with Antelope Dx) will allow quick (<10’) and easy on-site detection of ANY (current and future) cannabinoid and opioid.