Amira Guirguis

Amira Guirguis
Swansea University | SWAN · Institute of Life Science "ILS"

Doctor of Philosophy

About

82
Publications
16,010
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803
Citations
Introduction
Amira originally trained as an accountant before gaining an interest in pharmacy, which resulted in the completion of an MPharm degree from the University of Hertfordshire and multiple awards including the JOEL medal and the General Pharmaceutical Council, mental health and pharmaceutical chemistry research awards. Amira gained her PhD in the in-field detection of New Psychoactive Substance (NPS), which cumulated in several publications and the JPAG’s Geoffrey Phillips award. Amira is a committee member of the RPS LNWLPF and JPAG. Amira joined the University of Hertfordshire as a lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Amira’s research interests focus on the training and education of pharmacists on the new area of NPS and on developing models aimed at enhancing the in-field detection of NPS
Additional affiliations
October 2013 - November 2016
University of Hertfordshire
Position
  • Lecturer

Publications

Publications (82)
Article
Abstract Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people with substance use disorders (SUDs) worldwide and healthcare systems have reorganized their services in response to the pandemic. Methods: One week after the announcement of the COVID-19 as a pandemic, in a global survey, 177 addiction medicine professionals described COVID-19-related h...
Article
Background The benzodiazepine drug alprazolam, a fast-acting tranquiliser, cannot be prescribed on the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. Illicit alprazolam supply and consumption have increased. Concern about increasing numbers of alprazolam-related fatalities started circulating in 2018. However, statistics on this issue are very limi...
Article
During the past decade the misuse of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines has become a global public health concern especially among young people. In this study, we aimed to explore the OTC consumption and related misuse in Italy and to identify the demographic characteristics of people/individuals who are involved in this phenomenon, understanding eve...
Article
Full-text available
Background and aims: COVID-19 has infected more than 13 million people worldwide and impacted the lives of many more, with a particularly devastating impact on vulnerable populations, including people with substance use disorders (SUDs). Quarantines, travel bans, regulatory changes, social distancing and ‘lockdown’ measures have affected drug an...
Article
Currently, increasing availability and popularity of designer benzodiazepines (DBZDs) constitutes a primary threat to public health. To assess this threat, the biological activity/potency of DBZDs was investigated using in silico studies. Specific Quantitative Structure Activity Relationship (QSAR) models were developed in Forge™ for the prediction...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract: In the past twenty years, the consumption of opioid medications has reached significant proportions, leading to a rise in drug misuse and abuse and increased opioid dependence and related fatalities. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine whether there are pharmacovigilance signals of abuse, misuse, and dependence and their natu...
Article
Background Previous studies have reported that benzodiazepines (BZDs) seem to enhance euphoric and reinforcing properties of opioids in opioid users so that a direct effect on opioid receptors has been postulated together with possible synergistic induction of severe side-effects due to their co-use. This is particularly worrisome given the appeara...
Article
Full-text available
Despite increasing reports, antidepressant (AD) misuse and dependence remain underestimated issues, possibly due to limited epidemiological and pharmacovigilance evidence. Thus, here we aimed to determine available pharmacovigilance misuse/abuse/dependence/withdrawal signals relating to the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) citalopram,...
Article
'Smart drugs' (also known as 'nootropics' and 'cognitive enhancers' [CEs]) are being used by healthy subjects (i.e. students and workers) typically to improve memory, attention, learning, executive functions and vigilance, hence the reference to a 'pharmaceutical cognitive doping behaviour'. While the efficacy of known CEs in individuals with memor...
Article
This paper presents a systematic literature review on the detection of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in prison settings. It includes the most frequently reported NPS classes, the routes and forms used for smuggling, and the methods employed to analyze biological and non‐biological samples. The search was carried out using MEDLINE (EBSCO), Scopu...
Article
Full-text available
(1) Background: Over the last decade, misuse and diversion of medications has appeared to be increasingly concerning phenomena, including a range of different molecules. As current knowledge on the abuse of centrally acting anticholinergics is limited, the aim of the present study is to review the relevant published data, focusing on the following...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Cognitive enhancers (CE) are often used to improve memory, alertness and cognitive capacity. These products are commercially and pharmaceutically available. Due to high academic pressure, university students are at risk of CE misuse. However, data regarding this issue are limited, especially in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Aims: T...
Article
Psychedelics alter the perception of reality through agonist or partial agonist interaction with the 2A serotoninergic receptor. They are classified as phenethylamines, tryptamines and lysergamides. These classes, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA),...
Article
Full-text available
Designer benzodiazepines (DBZDs) represent a serious health concern and are increasingly reported in polydrug consumption-related fatalities. When new DBZDs are identified, very limited information is available on their pharmacodynamics. Here, computational models (i.e., quantitative structure-activity relationship/QSAR and Molecular Docking) were...
Article
Full-text available
The restrictive measures adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic modified some previously consolidated drug use patterns. A focus on social networks allowed drug users to discuss, share opinions and provide advice during a worldwide emergency context. In order to explore COVID-19-related implications on drug trends/behaviour and on most popular psycho...
Article
Full-text available
Background and Objectives: Over the past twenty years a large number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) have entered and modified the recreational drug scene. Their intake has been associated with health-related risks, especially so for vulnerable populations such as people with severe mental illness, who might be at higher risk of suicidality or...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Over the past 20 years or so, the drug misuse scenario has seen the emergence of both prescription-only and over-the-counter (OTC) medications being reported as ingested for recreational purposes. OTC drugs such as antihistamines, cough/cold medications, and decongestants are reportedly the most popular in being diverted and misused. Ob...
Article
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people with substance use disorders (SUDs) worldwide and healthcare systems have reorganized their services in response to the pandemic. Methods: One week after the announcement of the COVID-19 as a pandemic, in a global survey, 177 addiction medicine professionals described COVID-19-related health res...
Article
The focus here was on the pharmacological and clinical pharmacological issues pertaining to the vast range of drugs (e.g. synthetic cannabimimetics, synthetic opioids, novel stimulants, novel psychedelics, PCP/ketamine-like compounds, prescribed medicinal compounds and popular psychotropic herbs/plants) discussed by Internet-based enthusiasts of ne...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Cognitive enhancers (CEs), also known as "smart drugs", "study aids" or "nootropics" are a cause of concern. Recent research studies investigated the use of CEs being taken as study aids by university students. This manuscript provides an overview of popular CEs, focusing on a range of drugs/substances (e.g., prescription CEs includi...
Article
Full-text available
COVID-19-related disruptions of people and goods' circulation can affect drug markets, especially for new psychoactive substances (NPSs). Drug shortages could cause a change in available NPS, with the introduction of new, unknown, substances. The aims of the current research were to use a web crawler, NPSfinder®, to identify and categorize emerging...
Article
The use of several new psychoactive substances (NPS) has become very popular and is posing global health risks. Chemically and pharmacologically diverse molecules are constantly emerging and are presenting with a wide range of clinical implications. Serotonin toxicity, and specifically Serotonin Syndrome (SS), might develop as a result of an over-a...
Article
Background Both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs recently emerged among novel psychoactive substances (NPS) being reported as ingested for recreational purposes. Among them, benzydamine (BZY), normally prescribed as an OTC anti-inflammatory drug, is reportedly being diverted and recreationally used. Objective The aim of this study was...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people with substance use disorders (SUDs) worldwide, and healthcare systems have reorganized their services in response to the pandemic. Methods: One week after the announcement of the COVID-19 as a pandemic, in a global survey, 177 addiction medicine professionals described COVID-19-related health re...
Article
Full-text available
Background: There is growing availability of novel psychoactive substances (NPS), including cognitive enhancers (CEs) which can be used in the treatment of certain mental health disorders. Whilst treating cognitive deficit symptoms in neuropsychiatric or neurodegenerative disorders using CEs might have significant benefits for patients, the increas...
Article
Full-text available
Background Promethazine is a medicinal product, available on its own or in combination with other ingredients including dextromethorphan, paracetamol and/or expectorants. Anecdotal reports have however indicated that promethazine may have a misuse potential, especially in adolescents. Objective We here aimed at studying how this phenomenon has bee...
Article
Full-text available
(1) Introduction: Drug-related deaths in the UK are at concerning high levels. The unknown content and purity of illicit substances can cause unpredictable adverse effects and thus a public health risk with no sign of abating. On-site drug checking is a public health strategy that has previously been implemented, predominantly in festival settings,...
Article
https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/06/16/the-hidden-burden-of-laughing-gas/
Article
Drug checking services have been operating worldwide as a harm reduction tool in places like festivals and nightclubs. A systematic review and netnographic analysis were conducted to explore the public’s perception of drug checking. Although public perceptions of drug checking had not been previously evaluated in the literature, some positive and n...
Article
Full-text available
BackgroundA wide range of novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) are regularly searched and discussed online by e-psychonauts. Among NPSs, the range of prescription/non-prescription opioids (fentanyl and non-fentanyl analogs) and herbal derivatives currently represents a challenge for governments and clinicians.Methods Using a web crawler (i.e., NPS....
Article
Background A wide range of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) is regularly searched and discussed online by web-based drug enthusiasts (i.e. the e-psychonauts). Among NPS, the range of synthetic cannabinoids (SC; ‘Spice’) currently represents a challenge for governments and clinicians. Methods Using a web crawler (i.e. the NPS.Finder®) the presen...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: This survey aimed to explore knowledge and experience on novel psychoactive substances (NPS) of healthcare professionals (HCPs). The study also aimed to assess how HCPs would like to improve their knowledge of NPS. Methods: Seventy paper questionnaires were disseminated in 2017 within continuing education events to pharmacists, nurses an...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Clozapine is of high clinical relevance for the management of both treatment-resistant schizophrenia and psychotic disturbances with concurrent drug misuse. Although the molecule presents with a range of well-known side-effects, its discontinuation/withdrawal syndrome has been only anecdotally described. Aims: the 2005-2018 European...
Article
Novel psychoactive substances (NPS) are new drugs of abuse. Over the last 10 years 50‐100 new NPS have been detected for the first time each year. This has led to numerous deaths and challenges to healthcare providers and law‐makers worldwide. We review pre‐clinical studies of NPS and discuss how these studies have influenced legislative decisions....
Chapter
Substance use seems to be associated with increased prevalence levels of violent behaviour in both general population and psychiatric patients, with ‘dual-diagnosis’ clients showing high rates of risky and criminal behaviour and worse therapy compliance. Cases of drug-related aggressiveness mostly involve a number of molecules, e.g. ethanol, stimul...
Article
Background NPS belonging to the benzodiazepine (BZD) class, e.g., ‘legal/designer BZDs’/‘research chemicals’, have recently emerged on the drug (mainly online/virtual) market. Objective Whilst certain NPS belonging to the BZD class possess pharmacological profiles similar to controlled pharmaceutical BZDs, clinical and pharmacological profiles of...
Article
Aims: Within the new psychoactive substances (NPS) scenario, several hundred different molecules, mostly including synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones, have been identified so far. The aims of the paper were to: (i) identify the number of synthetic cathinones mentioned in a range of psychonaut, NPS-related, online sources; and (ii) describe the...
Article
Full-text available
New/emerging psychoactive substances and associated psychopathological consequences – Corrigendum - F. Schifano, F. Napoletano, S. Chiappini, A. Guirguis, J. M. Corkery, S. Bonaccorso, A. Ricciardi, N. Scherbaum, A. Vento
Article
Introduction: Over the past ten years, a large number of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) have entered the recreational drug scenario. NPS intake has been associated with health-related risks, and especially so for vulnerable populations such as the youngsters. Currently, most knowledge on the NPS health effects is learnt from both a range of user...
Article
Background The present paper provides an updated review of both the large number of new/novel/emerging psychoactive substances (NPS) and their associated psychopathological consequences. Focus was here given on identification of those NPS being commented in specialised online sources and the related short-/long-term psychopathological and medical i...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of the Review A significant increase in the number, type and availability of new psychoactive substances (NPS) with dissociative and psychedelic potential has occurred worldwide over the last few decades. Psychedelic substances have historically been used in order to achieve altered states of consciousness such as dissociative states. We ai...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of the Review A significant increase in the number, type and availability of new psychoactive substances (NPS) with dissociative and psychedelic potential has occurred worldwide over the last few decades. Psychedelic substances have historically been used in order to achieve altered states of consciousness such as dissociative states.We aim...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Background Although originally marketed as safe alternatives to the habit-forming benzodiazepines, growing numbers of zaleplon, zolpidem, and zopiclone (‘Z-drugs’) clinical concerns relating to their potential of abuse, dependence and withdrawal have been reported overtime. We aimed here at assessing these issues analysing datasets of Adve...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: A recent, global, increase in the use of opioids including the prescribing, highly potent, fentanyl has been recorded. Due its current popularity and the potential lethal consequences of its intake, we aimed here at analyzing the fentanyl misuse, abuse, dependence and withdrawal-related adverse drug reactions (ADRs) identified within the...
Article
Full-text available
A novel approach for the identification of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) by means of Raman spectroscopy coupled with Principal Components Analysis (PCA) employing the largest dataset of NPS reference materials to date is reported here. Fifty three NPS were selected as a structurally diverse subset from an original dataset of 478 NPS compounds....
Article
Full-text available
Recently, a range of prescription and over-the-counter drugs have been reportedly used as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS), due to their potential for abuse resulting from their high dosage/idiosyncratic methods of self-administration. This paper provides a systematic review of the topic, focusing on a range of medications which have emerged as...
Article
This is fact sheet for pharmacists published by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (London, UK). Available at: : https://www.rpharms.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=MKcS5k8ksEc%3d&tabid=2190&portalid=0
Article
This is a Quick Reference Guide for Pharmacists on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). Royal Pharmaceutical Society: London. Available at: https://www.rpharms.com/resources/quick-reference-guides/new-psychoactive-substances
Chapter
This chapter considers the prevalence of and motivations for use of synthetic cathinones. As part of the scene-setting, the availability, legal status, numbers of cathinones, number and quantities confiscated are reviewed. This leads to the first substantive section of the chapter—an epidemiological investigation of the nature and extent of what is...
Article
Full-text available
Substance misuse services need to meet the growing demand and needs of individuals using new psychoactive substances (NPS). A review of the literature identified a paucity of research regarding NPS use by these individuals and UK guidelines outline the need for locally tailored strategies. The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify and e...
Poster
The poster describes the role community pharmacists can play in helping COPD patients to manage their condition. It includes reference to production of an infographic that can be shared with all health professionals and which illustrate the support community pharmacists can and do provide. The aim was to encourage greater awareness of this support...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Introduction and Objectives Although there is some realisation of the potential for community pharmacists to help patients manage their conditions, finding ways to demonstrate this potential to health professionals in different roles and sectors is not easy. We conducted a semi-quantitative analysis of support offered to COPD patients within normal...
Article
Full-text available
Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is a syndrome characterized by prolonged or reoccurring perceptual symptoms, reminiscent of acute hallucinogen effects. HPPD was associated with a broader range of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)-like substances, cannabis, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin, mescaline, and psychostim...
Article
Full-text available
New psychoactive substances (NPS) can be generally described as a set of compounds that have been designed to mimic the effects of illegal recreational drugs, but are not subject to restriction or control with respect to existing regulations and legislation. In recent years, the number and chemical diversity of emergent NPS has increased substantia...
Poster
Full-text available
The poster described an informatic suitable for sharing with all primary care health professionals concerned with the management of COPD. The informatic described results of a community pharmacy study exploring how pharmacists could help patients to manage their condition bette. Data was included that provided a snapshot of the current care being r...
Article
Objectives: A method was developed to analyze St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) herb and preparations using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) to determine the quantity of 11 elements (Al, B, Ba, Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Ni, Sr and Zn). Methods: This study includes the evaluation of digestion acids and calibrati...
Article
Introduction: Cathinones are one of the most popular categories of new psychoactive substances (NPS) consumed. Cathinones have different pharmacological activities and receptor selectivity for monoamine transporters based on their chemical structures. They are incorporated into NPS mixtures and used with other NPS or 'traditional' drugs. Cathinone...
Article
The chemical identification of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in the field is challenging due not only to the plethora of substances available, but also as a result of the chemical complexity of products and the chemical similarity of NPS analogues. In this study, handheld Raman spectroscopy and the use of two excitation wavelengths, 785 and 106...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Outline: Community pharmacists are well placed to help the management of patients with long-term conditions such as COPD. Outline of problem: Many factors can prevent optimal care for COPD patients; some can be addressed within a pharmacy setting by improving patient understanding of how their condition can be managed. Assessment: A project was und...