Following a call in 2013 for funding proposals under the heading of Drug Prevention and Information, the European Commission recently awarded funding to a multi-institutional partnership across five countries led by the University of Hertfordshire, UK, to undertake a project looking at Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS).
This project is called EU-MADNESS, standing for EUropean-wide, Monitoring, Analysis and knowledge Dissemination on Novel/Emerging pSychoactiveS: integrated EU NPS monitoring & profiling to prevent health harms and update professionals. The aims of the 24-month project which started on 1 April 2014 and is led by Professor Fabrizio Schifano, are: “to monitor, test, profile, and feed back into education and prevention knowledge relating to the types of NPS emerging in Europe, their associated characteristics and potential harms”.
The project has four integrated Workstreams (WS).
WS 1 monitors and analyses fatalities and ‘near-misses’ related to NPS ingestion. Data from these reports will inform the choice of compounds to be investigated in WS 2 and WS 3.
WS 2 links spectral data of established drugs of abuse with their biological data generated by WS 3
WS 3 examines pharmacological and behavioural effects of NPS; which together with information from WS 2 will facilitate the development of computational models for recognising and predicting mode of action, properties and potency of unknown NPSs according to their likely chemical structure.
WS 4 involves the preparation of educational materials and resources on NPS, in a number of European languages, on the health risks of NPS for use in inter-professional medical, pharmacy and health education settings.