Construct API cannabinoid therapies utilizing molecular strategies
Let's take a closer look at how the molecular method can be used to discover the specific combinations of cannabis compounds that are beneficial in the treatment of certain medical indications such as inflammatory bowel disease, skin cancer, and colon cancer.
Over the past decade, cannabis has been discussed more and more as medicine. Many people initially thought it was all B.S., mainly because there were no legitimate large-scale studies to refer to in the United States. In other parts of the world, namely Israel, cannabinoids have been an important research topic in the past 60 years.
And what have you discovered in six decades, you might ask? Cannabis is found to be one of the most potent medicinal plants on earth – one that can be used to treat everything from anxiety to pain and nausea to certain types of cancer. What do the scientists say?
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Chat with an expert
To give you a better idea of the depth at which cannabis is researched, we included some experts from an interview with Professor Hinanit Koltai from the Israeli Volcani Research Institute outside of Tel Aviv. Volcani is a state-funded institute focusing on agricultural research, innovation and molecular plant science. This interview was conducted by Heli Dangur & Narkis Tessler from CannaCAST IL.
"What combinations of cannabis compounds are beneficial for the treatment of various medical indications (such as inflammation and cancer)?" Prof. Kolati begins. “We combined a thorough chemical analysis so that we can see every single molecule in cannabis extracts. We started to work on inflammatory bowel diseases, skin diseases and even colon cancer and inflammation of colon polyps. We were able to identify and isolate the actual composition of molecules from cannabis that even work synergistically to treat these various medical indications. "
"We first look at the molecules in the plant and every single molecule," she continued. "But we don't stop here. Rather, we ask what happens in human cells and tissues when treated with this particular API formulation from cannabis. Which genes and pathways are activated or suppressed by this treatment? We not only look at the plant, but also the human body as well as human cells and tissues and assign an action to these cannabis compounds. "
Volcani's researchers work with a wide range of health professionals, including doctors, hospitals, pharmacists and specialists. Who you work with at a particular time depends on the specific medical indication being investigated.
THC in the human body
Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, is the most dominant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and it is also the one with psychoactive effects. For this reason, cannabis flowers and products that contain more than traces of THC are prohibited nationwide. THC is much more complex than just a substance that gets you high. It has a variety of health benefits – including pain relief, brain regeneration, sleep aid, and PTSD treatment – that are hard to find in most other natural compounds.
To understand why THC works in a seemingly random combination of diseases, you need to examine the endocannabinoid system (ECS) deep in the human body. The ECS is a network of receptors that can be found in the entire body of all mammals. Herbal cannabinoids, known as phytocannabinoids, only work because our body already produces natural cannabinoids or endocannabinoids and the receptors that interact with them. The WSA is believed to play a prominent role in regulating many different processes in our body and in maintaining homeostasis.
To date, researchers have identified two separate endocannabinoids: 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide (AEA), as well as two main receptors: CB1 and CB2. 2-AG is a complete agonist of both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but has a more direct association with the CB2 receptor. For this reason, it is believed that 2-AG has a significant impact on the immune system.
THC is the only major cannabinoid that directly activates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain – not even CBD (cannabidiol), which has become mainstream due to its well-known medical benefits. Other compounds can actually affect the effect of THC on the CB receptors, which is why dosage and ratios (THC: CBD) are incredibly relevant to the successful use of cannabis-based therapies.
Not just to get up – THC's underreported medical applications
A closer look at CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is known as a full-fledged therapeutic powerhouse. And it is true, CBD can certainly be used for a variety of diseases, including epilepsy, anxiety, and inflammation. In contrast to THC, however, CBD only communicates indirectly with the CB receptors in our brain. CBD targets numerous other systems. For example, connecting CBD to the serotonin system helps reduce anxiety. The activation of the TRPV1 receptor by CBD is the reason why it works in pain.
A target has recently been discovered that is referred to as G-Protein Coupled Receptor 55 or GPR55. This is another receptor that cannabis compounds, including CBD, bind to. GPR55 appears to be a major factor in much of the cannabis-related pharmacology, including CBD's measures to prevent seizures and fight tumors.
In summary, the most common uses for CBD are: anxiety, pain, inflammation, seizure control, and addiction management. Motivation disorders such as addiction and fear are incredibly complicated and difficult to understand because they affect several receptor systems and nerve pathways at the same time. In the coming years, we can expect researchers to further explore this complexity to discover the full range of therapeutic effects of CBD in the body.
The top 5 medical applications for CBD
Treat cancer with cannabis
All over the world, most people's lives are affected by cancer in some way, regardless of whether they had it or know someone who does or did it. In the United States alone, approximately 1.8 million people develop cancer each year. The most common diagnosis is breast cancer, which affects almost 277,000 women per ear. Cancer is also the leading cause of death in Canada, accounting for almost 30% of the overall mortality rate. Treatment options include radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, all of which have potentially dangerous and long-lasting side effects.
At first glance, it seems like a stretch, but more research is coming to the surface that describes the cannabis compound's ability to fight cancer tumors. Take the latest study on the subject published on March 31, 2020 in the Oncotarget Medical Journal. It was found there that numerous cannabinoids – CBD and THC as well as CBC (cannabichromene) and CBN (cannabinol) – can certainly lead to cell death in tumors.
According to the study, treatment with the synergistic combination of the active fractions resulted in apoptotic cell death in My-La and HuT-78 cell lines. In addition, the synergistic treatment also led to apoptosis in SPBL, which was significantly selective for the malignant enriched cell population within the SPBL, which further implies a possible therapeutic use. In fact, a predominant effect of cannabinoids on cancer cells is the induction of death by apoptosis and the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation (21). For example, THC has previously been shown to induce apoptotic death of cancerous glioma cells via CB1 and CB2 receptors. "
Thanks to the ongoing work of medical cannabis pioneer Professor Raphael Mechoulam, cannabis-based cancer treatment could actually be within reach. Mechoulam, currently head of the multidisciplinary cannabinoid research center at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is leading a research team that aims to develop cannabis-based treatments for three aggressive cancers: melanoma (skin cancer), neuroblastoma (cancer originating in environment) and mostly neural system in children) and Glaublastoma (brain tumor).
$ 2 million for cannabis cancer research led by Professor Mechoulam
As always, I am amazed at the sheer size of this plant's healing abilities. Not only can it be used to treat so many different medical indications, it is also safe, non-addictive and generally has minimal side effects. As soon as science catches up here in the United States, we can count on the introduction of new and innovative therapies based on cannabis.
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