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IACM-Bulletin of 24 December 2017

Science/Human: Cannabis may slow inflammation of the brain in patients with HIV and may maintain cognitive performance

Cannabis has been found to potentially slow the process, in which mental decline can occur in up to 50 percent of HIV patients, says a new Michigan State University study, USA. "It's believed that cognitive function decreases in many of those with HIV partly due to chronic inflammation that occurs in the brain," said Norbert Kaminski, lead author of the study, now published in the journal AIDS. "This happens because the immune system is constantly being stimulated to fight off disease."

The research team discovered that cannabis compounds were able to act as anti-inflammatory agents, reducing the number of certain white blood cells, called CD16 monocytes, and decreasing the proteins (interferon-gamma-inducible protein 10) they release in the body. The researchers took blood samples from 40 HIV patients who reported whether or not they used cannabis. Then, they isolated the white blood cells from each donor and studied inflammatory cell levels and the effect cannabis had on the cells. They concluded, that “components of cannabis, including THC, may decelerate peripheral monocyte processes that are implicated in HIV-associated neuroinflammation.”

Rizzo MD, Crawford RB, Henriquez JE, Aldhamen Y, Gulick P, Amalfitano A, Kaminski NE. HIV-infected cannabis users have lower circulating CD16+ monocytes and IP-10 levels compared to non-using HIV patients. AIDS. 2017 Nov 30. [in press]

Marijuana may help HIV patients keep mental stamina longer

Science/Human: Cannabidiol may be helpful in schizophrenia according to clinical study

The plant cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) has shown promise in a clinical trial as a potential new treatment for psychosis, scientists from King’s College in London, UK, wrote. In the trial, 88 patients received either 1000 mg of CBD or placebo for six weeks, alongside their existing antipsychotic medication. Patients treated with CBD had lower levels of psychotic symptoms than those who received a placebo.

The study found that patients, who were treated with CBD, were more likely to be rated as “improved” by their psychiatrist and there were signs of better cognitive performance. Authors concluded in their article, that these “findings suggest that CBD has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia. As CBD's effects do not appear to depend on dopamine receptor antagonism, this agent may represent a new class of treatment for the disorder.”

McGuire P, Robson P, Cubala WJ, Vasile D, Morrison PD, Barron R, Taylor A, Wright S. Cannabidiol (CBD) as an Adjunctive Therapy in Schizophrenia: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2017 Dec 15. [in press]

Reuters of 15 December 2017

Norway: Norway wants to decriminalise drug use

Norway started a push to decriminalize drug use, when the majority of its parliament moved to focus on treatment for addicted drug users instead of punishment. “The majority in the parliament has asked the government to prepare for reform,” a spokesperson for the Norwegian legislature stated. “It has started a political process,” he said. But he cautioned that “it’s just the starting point,” and that there’s no legislation yet.

The majority wants to "stop punishing people who struggle, but instead give them help and treatment," Nicolas Wilkinson, the SV party’s health spokesman in the parliament told journalists. He said the effort will focus on treatment and follow-up programs. Members of parliament emphasized that they do not want to legalize drugs, but only to decriminalize. "The change will take some time, but that means a changed vision.“

Newsweek of 14 December 2017

News in brief

WHO: CBD should not be internationally scheduled as a controlled substance
At its November 2017 meeting, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) concluded that cannabidiol (CBD) does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm. CBD is not currently a scheduled substance and current information does not justify a change in this scheduling position.
World Health Organization, December 2017

Mexico: Mexico will legalise the sale of cannabis-based medicines in 2018
Mexico will legalize sales of cannabis-based medicines, foods, drinks, cosmetics and other products early next year, the government said on 20 December.
Reuters of 21 December 2017

Science/Human: No more than one quarter of patients receiving cannabis-based therapy may develop problematic use
In a study with 265 patients, who were prescribed oral cannabinoids and tested after 3, 6, and 12 months later a maximum of roughly 25% of patients demonstrated problematic cannabinoid use. The risk was higher among patients with psychiatric problems, a history of tobacco use and of recreational cannabis use.
Department of Anesthesia, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
Ware MA, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2017 Dec 17. [in press]

Science/Human: An altered endocannabinoid system may contribute to the development of schizophrenia
Researchers investigated brain samples from people with schizophrenia or depression and found that an altered gift often endocannabinoid system may contribute to the development of schizophrenia and depression by modifying the presence of certain signalling proteins.
Instituto Cajal, CSIC, Madrid, Spain.
Rodríguez-Muñoz M, et al. Transl Psychiatry. 2017;7(12):1291.

Science/Animal: Beta-caryophyllene without side-effects in animal study
High doses of beta-caryophyllene did not cause toxic effects in mice. Researchers used up to 2000 mg/kg body weight. Beta-caryophyllene binds to the CB2 receptor.
Federal University of Piauí, Teresina, Brazil.
Oliveira GLDS, et al. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2017 Dec 16. [in press]

Science/Animal: The analgesic effects of ketamine involve the endocannabinoid system
In a study with rats researchers demonstrated that the pain relieving effects of ketamine following injection into the paws were associated with increased levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide (arachidonoyl ethanolamide). Researchers concluded that peripheral analgesic effects of ketamine involve anandamide and the CB1 receptor.
Institute of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
Ferreira RCM, et al. J Pain. 2017 Dec 13. [in press]

Science/Animal: An FAAH inhibitor did not reduce pain in healthy subjects
In a double-blind study with 25 healthy females a synthetic endocannabinoid system modulator (ASP8477) in a dose of 100 mg was not superior to placebo in reducing pain caused by capsaicin on the skin. ASP8477 inhibits the degradation of the endocannabinoid anandamide by inhibition of FAAH, the enzyme responsible for degradation of this endocannabinoid.
Human Pharmacodynamic Research Dr. Schaffler GmbH, Munich, Germany.
Schaffler K, et al. Pain Med. 2017 Dec 8. [in press]

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