Synthetic Cannabinoids are classed as 'New Psychoactive Substances' (NPS) which are unregulated substances that have become newly available on the market as an alternative to illegal drugs. They are a designer drug in which herbs, incense or other leafy materials are sprayed with lab-synthesized liquid chemicals to mimic the psychoactive effects of marijuana. The chemicals act on the same receptor in the human body as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient in natural marijuana.
Compounds in designer drugs tend to change frequently in order to evade identification and scheduling by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), as well as detection in drug testing laboratories. Broad-spectrum drug screening via high-resolution mass spectrometry is the best way to identify any drug compounds in emergency settings where there is intoxication or poisoning.
However in all other cases, new diagnostic assays that specifically target the new version of the drugs must be created as small variations to the chemical structure of the compounds can decrease drug testing accuracy.
Two new generations of synthetic cannabinoids are AB-PINACA and UR-144. Meridian has just released new antibodies and BSA-conjugate pairs to these targets for use in ELISA and Lateral Flow assays.