Developing a Fluorescence Based Technique for the Detection and Identification of Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
: (Alternative Format Thesis)

  • Benedict May

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists, SCRAs, are a class of psychoactive substance designed to emulate the effects of the psychotropic effects of the active compounds found in marijuana. Usage rates of these drugs has shown a sharp increase within certain populations, primarily the homeless and the incarcerated. This increasing incidence of abuse has coincided with significant healthcare and social issues associated with the distribution and use of these drugs. These include deaths through overdoses, psychosis induced violence and the funding of criminal activity. One of the driving forces behind the increases in popularity of these drugs are limitations in the ability to detect their presence in biological and non-biological matrices. This has led to people turning to these drugs as they are undetectable on drug tests, healthcare workers expending significant amounts of time triaging overdose patients and vast quantities of the drugs being smuggled into custodial settings. Currently no testing modality exists capable of broadly testing for these compounds in a rapid and inexpensive manner. Some immunoassays have been developed to test for the usage of specific SCRA compounds, but this class of drugs is so numerous and novel compounds are synthesized so readily these quickly become obsolete. The only reliable way in which samples of these drugs can be detected an identified is though laboratory-based techniques combing chromatography with mass spectrometry or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. However, it is not feasible to have the equipment required for these techniques in the settings where testing is most needed. To help combat the issues posed by the abuse of these drugs, an infield testing technique capable of detecting and identifying a wide range of SCRA compounds in a variety of different matrices rapidly and accurately is required. This thesis displays the ability for a fluorescence-based detection technique to fit this testing niche, exhibiting its capability of highly sensitive detection and potential for automated SCRA identification from drug samples in nonbiological samples and oral fluid.
Date of Award26 Jul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChristopher Pudney (Supervisor) & Tom Fincham Haines (Supervisor)

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