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IACM-Bulletin of 22 March 2015

Science/Human: Cannabis use is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes in patients infected both with HIV and HCV

Diabetes and insulin resistance are frequent in patients who are both infected with the HI virus [HIV] and the hepatitis C virus [HCV]. Researchers from several French institutes found that among 703 patients infected with both viruses those 319 (45%) participants, who reported cannabis use in the 6 months before the first study visit, were less likely to have insulin resistance.

With insulin resistance cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin. The body produces insulin, but the cells in the body become resistant to insulin and are unable to use it as effectively, leading to type 2 diabetes. Authors concluded that “the benefits of cannabis-based pharmacotherapies for patients concerned by increased risk of insulin resistance and diabetes need to be evaluated in clinical research and practice. “

Carrieri MP, Serfaty L, Vilotitch A, Winnock M, Poizot-Martin I, Loko MA, Lions C, Lascoux-Combe C, Roux P, Salmon-Ceron D, Spire B, Dabis F; ANRS CO13 HEPAVIH Study Group. Cannabis use and reduced risk of insulin-resistance in HIV-HCV infected patients: a longitudinal analysis (ANRS HEPAVIH CO-13). Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Mar 16. [in press]

USA: Bill on medical cannabis introduced in congress

Senator Rand Paul, a possible Republican presidential candidate, introduced legislation with two Democrats that would prevent the federal government from prosecuting medical cannabis users in states where it is legal. Public opinion has shifted dramatically toward legal cannabis in recent years, and several of Paul's potential Republican rivals have framed it as a states' rights issue, where the federal government should not intervene.

Paul has been an outspoken critic of the war on drugs and has said cannabis users should not be put in jail. Medical cannabis is now legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and voters have approved it for recreational use in four states and Washington D.C. But it remains illegal at the federal level. That disparity locks cannabis businesses out of the banking system and exposes users to arrest. Democratic senators Corey Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York also have signed on to the bill.

Reuters of 10 March 2015

Science/Human: THC may safely be used in older persons with dementia

Only few of 98 patients with a mean age of 77 years suffering from dementia, who received THC experienced side effects, researchers wrote in the journal Psychopharmacology. In a random order they received a placebo for six weeks and 0.75 to 1.5 mg THC twice daily for another six weeks in a trial conducted by scientists of the Department of Psychogeriatric Medicine, Vincent van Gogh Institute in Venray, The Netherlands. In the past year these researchers had published results of a smaller trial with twelve participants.

Only 6 of the 98 participants reported adverse events related to THC. Psychotropic effects, diastolic blood pressure and other measures were not significantly different between THC and placebo. THC was rapidly absorbed and had dose-linear pharmacokinetics with considerable variation between different subjects. Authors wrote that “pharmacodynamic effects, including adverse events, were minor.”

Ahmed AI, van den Elsen GA, Colbers A, Kramers C, Burger DM, van der Marck MA, Olde Rikkert MG. Safety, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacokinetics of multiple oral doses of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in older persons with dementia. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 Mar 11. [in press]

News in brief

Holland: Survey on the medical use of cannabis
The Dutch patient organization on the medical use of cannabis (Stichting Patienten Groep Medicinale Cannabis) is conducting a survey on the medical use of cannabis.

USA: Food and Drug Administration issues warning letter on CBD products
In late February 2015, FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued several warning letters to firms that market unapproved drugs for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases. Some of these firms claim that their products contain cannabidiol (CBD). FDA has tested those products and, in some of them, did not detect any CBD.
Warning Letters and Test Results

USA: A Nevada Member of Parliament proposes bill to make cannabis available for the treatment of pets
A Nevada Member of Parliament proposed a bill in the state legislature that would grant ailing pets access to medical cannabis. The measure, put forward by Democrat Tick Segerblom, would let owners obtain the drug for their animals if a veterinarian confirmed it "may mitigate the symptoms or effects" of a chronic or debilitating medical condition.
Reuters of 18 March 2015

Science/Human: Patients use cannabis to substitute other medicinal drugs
According to a survey conducted among 200 patients of a cannabis dispensary centre in Rhode Island the majority report having used it as an alternative to conventional prescription drugs. Most participants (69%) used it against chronic pain. Over 90% of respondents reported that cannabis was associated with fewer side effects than conventional pain medications.
Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, USA
Zaller N, et al. J Psychoactive Drugs 2015;47(1):18-23.

Science/Cells: Mechanisms of the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD
In cell studies several effects responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD where observed including promotion of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 (interleukin 10) and inhibiting effects on T helper 17 cells (Th17), a subset of T helper cells producing interleukin 17 (IL-17).
Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Kozela E, et al. J Neuroinflammation 2015;12(1):273.

Science/Animal: Endocannabinoids prevent from damage caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
In a study with mice unlike nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac, a blocker of endocannabinoid degradation (ARN2508) caused no gastric damage and even protected the gastrointestinal tract from damage caused by these drugs.
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa, Italy
Sasso O, et al. FASEB J. 2015 Mar 10. [in press]

Science/Human: CBD may safely be co-administered together with fentanyl
In a clinical study with healthy volunteers CBD in doses of 400 or 800 mg did not influence effects of the opioid fentanyl. Authors wrote that “coadministration of CBD and opioids was safe and well tolerated.”
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA.
Manini AF, et al. J Addict Med. 2015 Mar 5. [in press]

Science/Animal: The activation of the CB2 receptor reduced rejection of transplanted organs
Studies with mice revealed that the CB2 receptor influences mechanisms associated with the rejection of transplanted organs. Authors wrote that their experiments “suggest that CB2 may be a promising therapeutic target in organ transplantation.”
University of Bonn, Germany.
Kemter AM, et al. Life Sci. 2015 Mar 2. [in press]

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