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IACM-Bulletin of January 2, 2022


Science/Human — The medical use of cannabis may be helpful in severe treatment resistant epilepsy

In 10 children with treatment resistant epilepsy a range of whole cannabis extracts were effective in reducing seizure frequency. Investigators from DrugScience, London, the Department of Brain Sciences of Imperial College London, London, and the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, reported the results in British Medical Journal Paediatrics Open. Participants were recruited from two charities that support children who are using medical cannabis to treat their epilepsies. Individual dosing regimens were determined by clinicians.

Seizure frequency across all 10 participants was reduced by 86% with no significant adverse events. Participants reduced use of antiepileptic drugs from an average of seven to one following treatment with medical cannabis.

Zafar R, Schlag A, Phillips L, Nutt D. Medical cannabis for severe treatment resistant epilepsy in children: a case-series of 10 patients. BMJ Paediatrics Open 2021;5:e001234.

Science/Human — CBD in addition to THC in cannabis cigarettes reduces anxiety while keeping positive subjective effects

Compared to smoking a THC-dominant cannabis strain, a variety with equal amounts of THC and CBD resulted in less paranoia and anxiety with similar levels of positive effects. This is the result of a study with 159 regular cannabis users by investigators of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Boulder, USA. Participants were randomly assigned to administration of one of three chemovars (THC-dominant: 24% THC, 1% CBD; THC+CBD: 9% THC, 10% CBD; CBD-dominant: 1% THC, 23% CBD). The participants could consume as much of it as they wanted.

They were investigated before, immediately after, and 1 hour after administration of their assigned strain. Participants who used the CBD-dominant and THC + CBD varieties had significantly less THC and more CBD in blood samples compared to participants who used the THC-dominant strain. Further, the THC + CBD strain was associated with similar levels of positive subjective effects, but significantly less paranoia and anxiety, as compared to the THC-dominant strain.

Gibson LP, Karoly HC, Ellingson JM, Klawitter J, Sempio C, Squeri JE, Bryan AD, Bidwell LC, Hutchison KE. Effects of cannabidiol in cannabis flower: Implications for harm reduction. Addict Biol. 2022;27(1):e13092.

Science/Animal — CBD inhibits growth of glioblastoma by altering the tumour microenvironment among other mechanisms

In a murine model of glioblastoma, a difficult to treat brain cancer, CBD was shown to inhibit tumour growth by several mechanisms. Results by investigators of the Dental College of Georgia of Augusta University, USA, were published in the IACM journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Their findings showed that inhalation of CBD was able to not only to limit tumour growth but also to alter the dynamics of tumour microenvironment. In addition, there were signs that CBD promoted the immune response to the cancer. Authors wrote that “our novel findings support the possible therapeutic role of inhaled CBD as an effective, relatively safe, and easy to administer treatment adjunct for GBM.”

Khodadadi H, Salles ÉL, Alptekin A, Mehrabian D, Rutkowski M, Arbab AS, Yeudall WA, Yu JC, Morgan JC, Hess DC, Vaibhav K, Dhandapani KM, Baban B: Inhalant Cannabidiol Inhibits Glioblastoma Progression Through Regulation of Tumor Microenvironment. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2021 Dec 16. [in press]

News in brief

USA — NIDA reports high decrease in illicit drug use in the past year among adolescents

“The percentage of adolescents reporting substance use decreased significantly in 2021. (…) In line with continued long-term declines in the use of many illicit substances among adolescents previously reported by the Monitoring the Future survey, these findings represent the largest one-year decrease in overall illicit drug use reported since the survey began in 1975.”

National Institute on Drug Abuse of 15 December 2021

Thailand — The country intends to legalise all products from cannabis with a THC content below 0.2%

Thailand plans to legalise all parts of the cannabis plant next year, making the plant fully usable for commercial purposes. Once the new list comes into effect, all cannabis products such as oil, soap, cosmetics and supplements, which normally have less than 0.2 per cent of THC, can be made and used freely.

New Straits Time of 12 December 2021

Science/Cells — CBD may be helpful in breast cancer

In a study with breast cancer cells scientists demonstrated that CBD reduced the potential of breast cancer cells to build new blood vessels and suppressed stem cell-like properties. They wrote that “CBD may potentially be utilized in the treatment of refractory or recurrent breast cancer.”

College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Korea.

Jo MJ, et al. Cancers (Basel). 2021;13(22):5667.

Science/Animal — Alcohol use in adolescence influences the endocannabinoid system in adults

In a study with rats the use of cocaine and alcohol altered the endocannabinoid system in adults.

Psychobiology Department, School of Psychology, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, Spain

Marcos A, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2021 Dec 26:108937.

Science/Human — No relevant sex differences in acute cannabis effects

In a study combining results from 2 randomised control studies with vaporised THC as well as with vaporised THC and CBD no major sex differences were observed in acute effects.

Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, The University of Sydney, Australia

Arkell TR, et al. Addict Biol. 2021 Dec 22:e13125.

Science/Animal — THC inhibits bone remodelling in tooth movement

Orthodontic tooth movement is reliant on the process of bone remodelling. In a study with rats researchers demonstrated that THC inhibited this process by decreasing bone resorption.

Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, USA.

Klein KP, et al. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2021 Dec 16:S0889-5406(21)00657-0.

Science/Human — The endocannabinoid system may play a role in endometriosis-associated pain

In a study with 23 women suffering from endometriosis and 19 healthy controls, those with endometriosis had higher levels of the endocannabinoid 2-AG.

Department of BioMedical Research (DBMR), University of Bern, MEM, Switzerland.

Andrieu T, et al. Pain. 2022;163(1):193-203.

Science/Human — Occasional cannabis use has no effect on physical health in twin study

In a study with 308 twin pairs aged 25 to 35 cannabis use once a week was not independently associated with physical health with the exception of a lower resting heart rate in cannabis users.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, USA.

Ross JM, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2022;230:109200.

Science/Human — Cannabis and alcohol use were associated with increased sleep time in students

In a study with 80 college students the use of alcohol and the use of cannabis were associated with shorter sleep-onset latency and longer total sleep time. After alcohol-only use in the reported more nightly awakenings.

School of Public Health, University of Haifa, Israel.

Sznitman SR, et al. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2021 Dec 20. [in press]

Science/Animal — Local application of cannabinoids to the eye may improve dry-eye disease

In a study with mice researchers demonstrated that topical administration of THC and other modulators of the endocannabinoid system may be beneficial in dry-eye disease.

Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Cologne, Germany.

Tran BN, et al. Ocul Surf. 2021;23:131-139.

Science/Animal — Positive effects of vitamin D on diabetes may involve the endocannabinoid system

In a study with rats with diabetes vitamin D improved gut bacteria and this was associated with effects on the endocannabinoid system. Authors wrote that crosstalk between vitamin D and the endocannabinoid system needs further exploration.

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Egypt.

Hussein HM, et al. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2021 Dec 20:106105.

Science/Human — Genetic variations in FAAH gene influence fear learning in women with PTSD

A study with 85 adult women with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) revealed that genetic variation in the gene, which encodes the enzyme FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) responsible for the degradation of anandamide “influences physiological, cognitive, and neural signatures of fear learning in women with PTSD.”

The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, USA.

Crombie KM, et al. Neuroimage Clin. 2021;33:102922.

Science/Human — Long-term use of CBD does not impaire liver function in healthy adults

According to a study with 839 healthy adults, who self-medicated with CBD this cannabinoid does not have a negative effect on liver function.

Midwest Allergy Sinus Asthma PC, Springfield, USA.

Kaufmann R, et al. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2021 Dec 16. [in press]

Science/Human — Treatment with a cannabis extract may reduce opioid doses

According to a study in Norway treatment with a cannabis extract may reduce opioid use.

Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway

Bramness JG, et al. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2022;130(1):84-92.

Science/Animal — Treatment with beta-caryophyllene may protect cartilage in osteoarthritis

In an animal model of osteoarthritis prolonged activation of the CB2 receptor with beta-caryophyllene was “able to produce both acute and prolonged antinociceptive and chondroprotective effects.“

Department of Neurochemistry, Maj Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Cracow, Poland.

Mlost J, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2022;204:108908.

Science/Animal — Cannabinol may be beneficial in glaucoma

In a study with mice CBN (cannabinol) promoted neuroprotection, abrogated changes in extracellular matrix protein, and normalised the intraocular pressure levels in the eye. Authors concluded that their “observations in the present study indicate a therapeutic potential for CBN in the treatment of glaucoma.”

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Somvanshi RK, et al. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2021;1868(3):166325.

Science/Human — A CBD extract showed a long-term efficacy against seizures in tuberous sclerosis

A follow-up of patients receiving the cannabis extract Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures in tuberous sclerosis with median treatment time of 267 days showed that “CBD treatment was well tolerated and sustainably reduced seizures through 48 weeks, with most patients/caregivers reporting global improvement.”

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.

Thiele EA, et al. Epilepsia. 2021 Dec 27. [in press]