Phencyclidine - The dust of angles,Emphasis on molecular mechanisims of PCP

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The Dawn of a New Age

April, 1956 : The pharmaceutical company Parke & Davis first synthesize what they

believe to be the perfect anesthetic (Souza, 1995). When administered to patients, it causes a

completely dissociative state, with no significant respiratory or cardiovascular depression.

Patients appear to be awake, eyes open, breathing normally.but are unaware of their

surroundings or the procedures being performed upon them (Souza, 1995). Indeed, this is the

perfect drug. Unfortunately, like all good things, this one has a darker side. 15% of patients

awake from their slumber with what appeared to be an acute case of paranoid schizophrenia

(Peterson; Stillman, 1978). The drug is PCP, and to this day it is the scourge of the

underground drug community, and the focal point of intense scientific research. Parke Davis and

Company did not know how terrible, and wonderful, a discovery they made that day; but our

world has been changed forever because of it.quite

possibly for the better.

The Dust of Angels

Phencyclidine, more commonly known as PCP, is a polycyclic compound belonging to

the arylcyclohexylamine class of chemicals [figure 1.0] (Souza 1993). In pure form, it is a white

powder which readily dissolves in water. The cyclohexamines are known for their the potent

neurological effects, with PCP being the most potent. Almost every variation has been

administered to, or abused by, humans at some time (Nintey Fifth Congress, 1978). All these

compounds have similar pharmacological effects, which vary considerably according to the

amount administered. Small doses produce a `drunken' state, in which subjects report a

numbness in the extremities, while some species (like dogs and cats) become quite excited

(Halberstadt, 1995). Intermediate doses have anesthetic and analgesic effects , with the psychic

state resembling sensory isolation with one important exception: the sensory impulses (when

tested electrophysiologically)...