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IACM-Bulletin of 15 May 2016

Science/Animal: New function of the CB2 receptor in the brain

In the brain, there is a delicate interplay of signalling substances and cellular activity. Scientists of the Neuroscience Research Centre and Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Berlin, Germany, have now identified another key player within this ensemble. In a laboratory study they found that the cannabinoid 2 receptor influences information processing inside the hippocampus. The research results might help advance our understanding of schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease, say the authors.

"Until now, this receptor was considered part of the immune system without function in nerve cells. However, our study shows that it also plays an important role in the signal processing of the brain," explains Professor Dietmar Schmitz, Speaker for the DZNE-Site Berlin and Director of the Neuroscience Research Centre of the Charité. As the researchers demonstrated in an animal model, the CB2 receptor raises the excitation threshold of nerve cells in the hippocampus, a certain brain region. "Brain activity is disturbed in schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer's disease and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Pharmaceuticals that bind to the CB2 receptor could possibly influence the activity of brain cells and thus become part of a therapy," Professor Schmitz concludes.

Stempel AV, Stumpf A, Zhang HY, Özdoğan T, Pannasch U, Theis AK, Otte DM, Wojtalla A, Rácz I, Ponomarenko A, Xi ZX, Zimmer A, Schmitz D. Cannabinoid Type 2 Receptors Mediate a Cell Type-Specific Plasticity in the Hippocampus. Neuron. 2016 Apr 28. [in press]

Science Daily of 2 May 2016

Germany: Government wants to make cannabis available on prescription

The German government on 4 April supported a law that would improve the medical supply of the population with cannabis and cannabis-based medicines. The law is intended to go into effect in March 2017. Dried cannabis flowers and cannabis extracts will be available in pharmacies on prescription. Every doctor will be allowed to issue such a prescription and there will be no limitations concerning the kind of disease or symptom, for which cannabis may be used. The public health system will cover the cost, if other treatment option do not work sufficiently or cause severe side effects according to the draft bill.

Until now, seriously ill people in Germany could only access cannabis with special approval and had to pay themselves. "Our aim is that seriously ill people are treated in the best possible way," Health Minister Hermann Groehe said in a statement. The government is to set up a cannabis agency, which will supervise plantations to grow cannabis and will import the cannabis, which it needs for now.

Reuters of 4 May 2016

News in brief

World: Medical Cannabis Declaration website continues with course on medical cannabis
During its Crowdfunding the Medical Cannabis Declaration continues its course on cannabis as medicine, this time with “The endocannabinoid system: the body’s own cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors”: Medical Cannabis Declaration
Crowdfunding: Say Yes to Cannabis as Medicine

Science/Human: Legalization of cannabis in Washington had no effect on access to the drug by adolescents
A study to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting shows no change in proportion of adolescents who find it 'easy' to access cannabis after its recreational use was legalized for adults.
Science Daily of 30 April 2016

USA: CBD oil with low concentrations of THC legalized in Alabama
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on 4 April signed legislation into law to allow CBD (cannabidiol) oil in the state. The new law allows for up to 3% THC in the oil.
Times Free Press of 4 April 2016

USA: The drug authority DEA is considering rescheduling cannabis
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is weighing whether to change the classification of marijuana (cannabis) from schedule I to the less restrictive schedule II, which would remove many restrictions on its use in medical research.
UPI of 10 May 2016

UK: Suggestion for a regulated cannabis market
The most comprehensive framework for how a regulated cannabis market could work in the UK has been published on 8 March 2016 by an independent panel of experts set up by the Liberal Democrats.
Framework for a regulated cannabis market

Canada: Hospital pharmacists have limited knowledge on medical cannabis
According to a survey with 769 participants 55.2% Canadian hospital pharmacists agreed that cannabis for medical purposes is effective, and 17.2% considered themselves knowledgeable about this substance, with 65% reporting no formal training on the topic.
Mitchell F, et al. Can J Hosp Pharm 2016;69(2):122-130.

Science/Animal: Inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 involving CB1 receptors may reduce anxiety and depression
Recent studies have suggested cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibition could represent a novel treatment approach for affective disorders including anxiety disorders and major depression. These effects were mediated by CB1 cannabinoid receptor activation, among others.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, USA.
Gamble-George JC, et al. Elife. 2016 May 10;5. [in press]

Science/Human: Cannabis spray is beneficial in spasticity in multiple sclerosis
A total of 1615 patients with multiple sclerosis, who received the cannabis spray Sativex against spasticity, were recruited from 30 centres across Italy. After one treatment month, researchers found 70.5% of patients reaching a ≥20% improvement and 28.2% reaching a ≥30% improvement.
Department of Medical, Surgical Science and Advanced Technology "GF Ingrassia", University of Catania, Italy.
Patti F, et al. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2016 May 9. [in press]

Science/Human: Sativex was effective against spasticity in MS irrespective of pre-treatment
In a study with 219 patients with multiple sclerosis the cannabis spray Sativex provided consistent relief with good tolerability irrespective of their antispasticity pre-treatment history.
Department of Neurology, Augusta Hospital Anholt, Isselburg-Anholt, Germany.
Haupts M, et al. EUR Neurol 2016;75(5-6):236-243.

Science/Human: Cannabis was not effective in Huntington’s disease
In a double-blind cross-over study 26 patients with Huntington’s disease received the cannabis extract Sativex for 12 weeks and a placebo for another 12 weeks. No differences on motor, cognitive, behavioural and functional scores were detected during treatment with Sativex as compared to placebo.
Neurology Department, Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Carretera de Colmenar, Madrid, Spain.
López-Sendón Moreno JL, et al. J Neurol. 2016 May 9. [in press]

Science/Animal: Activation of the CB1 receptor may be beneficial in Parkinson’s disease
In an animal model of Parkinson’s disease with rats scientists found a “critical role of CB1 receptors in treating PD with simvastatin, and implicate CB1 receptors as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of PD.”
Department of Neurology, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.
Mackovski N, et al. Life Sci. 2016 May 4. [in press]

Science/Cells: Cannabinoids influenced the mechanical and migratory properties of brain cancer cells
Three different glioblastoma cell lines (brain cancers) were treated with cannabinoids. Researchers found that cannabinoids are capable of influencing migratory and mechanical properties in a cell line specific manner. Authors wrote that they “could show that a "generalized stiffness" is a profound marker for the invasiveness of a tumor cell population in our model and thus might be of high clinical relevance for drug testing. Additionally cannabinoids were shown to be of potential use for therapeutic approaches of glioblastoma.”
Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.
Hohmann T, et al. Cell Adh Migr. 2016 May 5:0. [in press]

Science/Animal: Investigation of the mechanism of action of CBD in schizophrenia
In a study with a rat model of schizophrenia scientists demonstrated a novel mechanism for the putative antipsychotic-like properties of CBD (cannabidiol) in the mesolimbic circuitry. They wrote: “specifically, we report that CBD can attenuate both behavioral and dopaminergic neuronal correlates of mesolimbic dopaminergic sensitization.”
Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.
Renard J, et al. J Neurosci 2016;36(18):5160-9.

Science/Animal: CBD reduces catalepsy caused by haloperidol
The anti-psychotic medication haloperidol may cause motor side-effects. CBD (cannabidiol) was shown to reduce catalepsy (muscular rigidity) induced by haloperidol and this was mediated by the activation of 5-HT1A receptors.
Medical School of Ribeirăo Preto, University of Săo Paulo, Brazil.
Sonego AB, et al. Behav Brain Res 2016;309:22-28.

Science/Animal: Endocannabinoids reduce pruritus
The increase of endocannabinoid concentrations by inhibiting fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) or monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) reduced pruritus (itching) in mice.
Department of Pharmacology, Drug Discovery and Research Center, Gulhane Academy of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.
Yesilyurt O, et al. Arch Dermatol Res. 2016 Apr 28. [in press]

Science/Animal: Endocannabinoids reduce inflammation caused by vesicants
Vesicants including sulphur mustard cause skin inflammation, oedema and blistering. Increase of endocannabinoid levels by inhibition of FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) reduced these effects in mice.
Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, USA.
Wohlman IM, et al. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2016 Apr 25. [in press]

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