• EMCDDA and NFP, operating the early warning systems (EWS), are currently collecting information on NPS using several methods. We will start with this list of NPS and will complete and refine it according to specific criteria, as described below:
    The analytical component of the project will use specific analytical techniques to identify and quantify the NPS in urine and wastewater samples. These are high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and high resolution-mass spectrometry.
    The samples analysed will be:
    • Urine collected from suspected NPS intoxication from emergency rooms and forensic cases,
    • Wastewater from the sewage works of 42 major European cities, stored frozen, which will be retrospectively analysed,
    • Wastewater and pooled urine from music festival venues. These activities will verify the use of already identified NPS and allow the identification of unreported NPS.
  • The epidemiology arm of the project will comprise surveys on target individuals during urine sampling in festivals, in order to collect information on their knowledge on NPS, their risk perception of the substances they are consuming, the pattern of consumption. This triangulation approach will provide an integrated look at the NPS issue and contribute to orientate prevention by understanding consumers perception and behaviour.
  • A risk assessment will be conducted on the candidate NPS most frequently identified in urine and in wastewater. This will contribute to classify NPS according to their psychoactive properties and toxicity and to estimate health and social risks.
  • A prospective study will be conducted in wastewater from 20 cities in Europe and in urine (2 cities) to estimate extent and pattern of consumption of the selected NPS (targeted analysis) and to study their circulation in Europe.
  • The information will be shared with EMCDDA and EC with the aim to support the implementation of EU legislation on NPS, and in addressing a discussion on best practice on prevention.

The Activities Worksteams

Management and Coordination of the Project

General management and coordination activities
  • Kick-off meeting in Brussels
  • Plenary meeting (Workshop 1) in the first month of the project (Milan)
  • Plenary meeting (Workshop 2) after 6 months (Lisbon)
  • Plenary meeting (Workshop 3), after 12 months (Oslo)
  • Plenary meeting (Workshop 4), after 18 months (Castellon)
  • Final International Conference (Lisbon, EMCDDA headquarters)
  • Coordination of writing and editing of research papers to be published in books and scientific Journals
  • Project website organization and management, for dissemination and communication
  • Administrative office of the project appointed
  • Project Progress Monitoring

Identification and Characterization of NPS (screening of candidate substances)

Identification, characterization and selection of NPS by using: the EMCDDA list, qualitative , chemical analysis of wastewater and pooled urine, surveys of target groups of individuals.
  • Listing NPS
  • Identification of unreported NPS
  • Identification of metabolites and excretion products of NPS

Risk assessment and neurotoxicity studies of the NPS (identification of harmful NPS)

Risk assessment of the candidate NPS by using in vitro neurotoxicity studies and in vivo studies to identify the most harmful substances.
  • Listing NPS
  • Identification of unreported NPS
  • Identification of metabolites and excretion products of NPS

Monitoring extent and patterns of use of NPS (identification of the most widely-used NPS)

Monitor the extent, pattern of use and circulation in Europe of the selected NPS by using quantitative, analysis of wastewater and urine samples.
  • In vitro studies – neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation and yeast model impact
  • In vivo studies: behavioural and cognitive studies
  • Ex vivo hippocampal histopathological findings of the tested rodents