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IACM-Bulletin of July 15, 2012
The company Tikun Olam has developed a cannabis strain that contains 15.8 per cent CBD (cannabidiol) and less than one per cent THC. The strain is called Avidekel and does not cause psychological effects. Raphael Mechoulam, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said that it showed promise as a potent anti-inflammatory drug. Ruth Gallily, a professor emerita of immunology at Hebrew University, who works for the company and has been studying CBD for more than 12 years, has been testing the effects of Tikun Olam's CBD-enhanced cannabis on mice. She expects clinical trials to begin in a few months.
Many medicinal effects of cannabis are due to THC, which also causes the typical psychological effects. "Sometimes the high is not always what they need. Sometimes it is an unwanted side effect," said Zack Klein, head of development at Tikun Olam. Avidekel is a new strain of a plant that is already permitted for medical use in Israel so there is nothing stopping patients who are already being treated with cannabis from trying Avidekel. About 10 patients began using it in the past six months, Klein said.
A course on “Cannabis in Medicine: A Primer for Healthcare Professionals” will be held at the University of California in San Francisco on 24 October 2012 and in Los Angeles on 25 October 2012. These programs are jointly sponsored by the CCIC (Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids) and the University of California and with collaboration of the SCC (Society of Cannabis Clinicians).
According to a recent poll 66 per cent of Canadians said they believe the possession of small amounts of cannabis should be decriminalized. They support ending of fines and penalties for simple possession.
According to GW Pharmaceuticals four small clinical studies are underway to investigate the effects of two natural cannabinoids in obesity-related diseases. These cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), which have shown to decrease appetite in animal studies. The compounds also had an impact on the level of fat in the body and its response to insulin, a hormone that controls sugar levels in the blood.
The current classification of cannabis in the USA in the most severe class of narcotics is no longer justified by the current scientific knowledge. Authors wrote: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking."
Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research; University of California, San Diego, USA.
The endocannabinoid anandamide improved experimental periodontitis in rats. Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease affecting the periodontium, i.e., the tissues that surround the teeth. Local injection of anandamide reduced the concentration of inflammatory cytokines, e.g. tumour necrosis factor alpha. This effect was mediated by both cannabinoid receptors.
Department of Physiology, School of Dentistry, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Certain variations of the molecule, which is responsible for the degradation of some endocannabinoids, were associated with increased emotional reactivity. This molecule is called FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase). The study was conducted with 67 persons with a certain genetic variation of FAAH. Authors concluded that their findings emphasize the impact of the endocannabinoid system “on emotional reactivity as a central endophenotype underlying various psychiatric disorders.”
Department of Psychology, University of Würzburg, Germany.
Stress was shown to increase the concentrations of anandamide and other endocannabinoids (eCBs) in the blood of healthy humans. These concentrations were measured in 71 subjects after a stressful psychological task and after a non-stressful control task. Researchers also found that high anxiety ratings before the tests were associated with low concentrations of anandamide. They concluded: “This finding supports a protective role for eCBs in anxiety.”
Department of Psychiatry, University of Muenster, Germany.
The level of the CB2 receptor was 40 per cent higher in the frontal cortex of patients with Alzheimer’s disease compared to healthy subjects of the same age. Authors wrote that “these results may constitute the basis of CB2R-based therapies and/or diagnostic approaches.”
Department of Pharmacology, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
The antipsychotic drug quetiapine was not effective in reducing withdrawal in abstinent regular cannabis users. 14 volunteer, who smoked an average of ten cannabis cigarettes a day, either received a placebo or quetiapine for 15 days. Authors concluded: “These data do not suggest that quetiapine shows promise as a potential treatment for marijuana dependence.”
Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, USA.
Multiple sclerosis is associated with a loss of oligodendrocytes, a certain type of neuroglia, which insulate certain slender projections (so-called axons) of nerve cells in the central nervous system. In cell experiments the natural cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) protected oligodendrocytes from apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Department of Functional and Systems Neurobiology, Neuroimmunology Group, Cajal Institute, Madrid, Spain.