Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Weeding out the highs of medical marijuana

15.07.2008
Research exploring new ways of exploiting the full medicinal uses of cannabis while avoiding unwanted side-effects will be presented to pharmacologists today (Tuesday, 15 July) by leading scientists attending the Federation of European Pharmacological Societies Congress, EPHAR 2008.

Cannabis is a source of compounds known as cannabinoids, one of which, THC – the main chemical responsible for the ‘high’ – has long been licensed as a medicine for suppressing nausea produced by chemotherapy and for stimulating appetite, for instance, in AIDS patients.

More recently, the cannabis-based medicine Sativex was licensed both for the symptomatic relief of neuropathic pain in adults with multiple sclerosis and as an adjunctive analgesic treatment for adult patients with advanced cancer. Sativex contains approximately equal amounts of THC and the non-psychoactive plant cannabinoid, cannabidiol.

“THC works by targeting molecules in our bodies called cannabinoid receptors” said Roger Pertwee, Professor of Neuropharmacology at the University of Aberdeen, who is co-chairing the cannabis symposium.

“So some current research is focused on designing drugs that only target cannabinoid receptors in the part of the body relevant to the disease in question and not the receptors in the central nervous system involved in the unwanted effects of cannabis.”

A further approach to avoiding the psychoactivity caused by THC involves harnessing the body’s own cannabis, called ‘endocannabinoids’.

“We don’t have cannabinoid receptors just in case we come into contact with plant-derived chemicals that activate them but rather because we have our own molecules that do this,” said Christopher Fowler, Professor of Pharmacology at Umea University, in Sweden, and co-chair of the meeting.

“The neat thing about endocannabinoids is that they are often produced only when we need them, such as when our bodies are damaged in some way; pain, for example, leads to a release of endocannabinoids in a region of the brain that is involved with pain control.

“The problem with this natural protective ‘endocannabinoid system’ is that it is too short-lived to be of great benefit – enzymes in our bodies quickly breakdown or metabolise the endocannabinoids negating their effect. It’s a bit like a bathtub without a plug – the water is turned on but rapidly disappears down the plughole. This suggests an immediate target: block the plughole and the water will stay longer.

“Since the release of endocannabinoids is local, levels in other parts of the brain, stay low. This approach is under intense investigation and programmes for the development of new drugs targeting pain and possibly other disorders such as anxiety and depression are currently underway.”

Speakers will report on promising studies that show improved strategies for targeting the endocannabinoid system, not only for pain relief, but also for treating other conditions, including stroke, liver diseases and, ironically, nicotine addiction and obesity.

Thus, as the conference will hear, there are some disorders in which endocannabinoid release appears to be detrimental to our health, one example being obesity, which can be treated with Acomplia*, a licensed synthetic medicine that acts by blocking cannabinoid receptors.

Professor Pertwee added: “THC in cannabis is of course well known for its ability to induce ‘the munchies’ and, as mentioned, is used in clinics to boost appetite. But my research group has discovered that another constituent of cannabis, THCV, acts in a similar way to Acomplia, blocking one of the cannabinoid receptors, so providing an alternative – and potentially better – treatment route in the fight against obesity.

“The conference will hear about some of the possible advantages THVC has over current obesity treatments, as well as data on the potential of cannabinoids to treat other conditions, including neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.”

Aeron Haworth | alfa
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk
http://www.ephar.org/index_fr.htm
http://www.ephar2008.org/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht World first: Massive thrombosis removed during early pregnancy
20.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Therapy of preterm birth in sight?
19.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>