Preparation, isolation and characterisation of cannabinoids metabolites via biocatalytic approaches

Vincenzo Abbate (primary)
Analytical, Environmental and Forensic Sciences
King’s College London
Daniele Castagnolo (secondary)
Institute of Pharmaceutical Science
King’s College London


Synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) constitute one of the most rapidly expanding class of new psychoactive substances. The metabolism of SCs is also relevant in clinical and forensic toxicology as SCs are excreted in urine mostly as their metabolites. Thus, SC metabolites are widely used as markers for identifying SC intake. There is urgent need for large scale production of SCs metabolites, with subsequent accurate structural identification to enable discovery of new and unidentified metabolites. This project aims at addressing this unmet research need via engineered biocatalytic assays coupled to sophisticated analytical methods for metabolite identification


1 In vitro phase I metabolic profiling of the synthetic cannabinoids AM-694, 5F-NNEI, FUB-APINACA, MFUBINAC and AMB-FUBINACA
Apirakkan, O., Gavrilovic, I., Cowan, D. & Abbate, V., 20 Jul 2020, In: Chemical Research in Toxicology. 33, 7, p. 1653-1664
2 Pharmacokinetics of mephedrone and its metabolites in whole blood and plasma after a controlled intranasal administration to healthy human volunteers
Czerwinska, J., Parkin, M., George, C., Kicman, A., Dargan, P. I. & Abbate, V., 23 Aug 2020, (Accepted/In press) In: Journal of Analytical Toxicology.
3 Evidence of enzyme-mediated transesterification of synthetic cannabinoids with ethanol: potential toxicological impact
Apirakkan, O., Gavrilovic, I., Floresta, G., Pierre, C., Cannaert, A., Stove, C., Dargan, P. I., Cowan, D. A., Couchman, L. & Abbate, V., 1 Jan 2020, In: Forensic Toxicology. 38, 1, p. 95-107
4 Anselmi, S.; Liu, S.; Kim, S.-H.; Barry, S.M.; Moody, T.S.; Castagnolo, D. “A mild and chemoselective CALB biocatalysed synthesis of sulfoxides exploiting the dual role of AcOEt as solvent and reagent” Org. Biomol. Chem. 2020, 19, 156-161
5 Lauder, K.; Toscani, A.; Qi, Y.; Lim, J.; Charnock, S.J.; Korah, K.; Castagnolo, D. “Photo-biocatalytic one-pot cascades for the enantioselective synthesis of 1,3-mercaptoalkanol volatile sulfur compounds” Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 5803-5807

Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology
Area of Biology
BiotechnologyChemical Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BioinformaticsChemistryMolecular BiologySimulation / Modelling