Availability and approval of cannabis-based medicines for chronic pain management and palliative/supportive care in Europe: A survey of the status in the chapters of the European Pain Federation.

European Journal of Pain

“There is considerable public and political interest in the use of cannabis products for medical purposes.

METHODS:

The task force of the European Pain Federation (EFIC) conducted a survey with its national chapters representatives on the status of approval of all types of cannabis-based medicines, the covering of costs and the availability of a position paper of a national medical association on the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain and for symptom control in palliative/supportive care.

RESULTS:

Thirty-one out of 37 contacted councillors responded. Plant-derived tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol (THC/CBD) oromucosal spray is approved for spasticity in multiple sclerosis refractory to conventional treatment in 21 EFIC chapters. Plant-derived THC (dronabinol) is approved for some palliative care conditions in four EFIC chapters. Synthetic THC analogue (nabilone) is approved for chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting refractory to conventional treatment in four EFIC chapters’. Eight EFIC chapters’ countries have an exceptional and six chapters an expanded access programme for medical cannabis. German and Israeli pain societies recommend the use of cannabis-based medicines as third-line drug therapies for chronic pain within a multicomponent approach. Conversely, the German medical association and a team of finish experts and officials do not recommend the prescription of medical cannabis due to the lack of high-quality evidence of efficacy and the potential harms.

CONCLUSIONS:

There are marked differences between the countries represented in EFIC in the approval and availability of cannabis-based products for medical use. EFIC countries are encouraged to collaborate with the European Medicines Agency to publish a common document on cannabis-based medicines.

SIGNIFICANCE:

There are striking differences between European countries in the availability of plant-derived and synthetic cannabinoids and of medical cannabis for pain management and for symptom control in palliative care and in the covering of costs by health insurance companies or state social security systems.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29134767

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1147/abstract

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Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1 Agonist ACEA Protects Neurons from Death and Attenuates Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Related Apoptotic Pathway Signaling.

Neurotoxicity Research

“Neurodegeneration is the result of progressive destruction of neurons in the central nervous system, with unknown causes and pathological mechanisms not yet fully elucidated. Several factors contribute to neurodegenerative processes, including neuroinflammation, accumulation of neurotoxic factors, and misfolded proteins in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).

Endocannabinoid signaling has been pointed out as an important modulatory system in several neurodegeneration-related processes, inhibiting the inflammatory response and increasing neuronal survival. Thus, we investigated the presumptive protective effect of the selective cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor agonist) against inflammatory (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) and ER stress (tunicamycin) stimuli in an in vitro neuronal model (Neuro-2a neuroblastoma cells). Cell viability analysis revealed that ACEA was able to protect against cell death induced by LPS and tunicamycin.

This neuroprotective effect occurs via the CB1 receptor in the inflammation process and via the transient receptor potential of vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1) channel in ER stress. Furthermore, the immunoblotting analyses indicated that the neuroprotective effect of ACEA seems to involve the modulation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2α), transcription factor C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP), and caspase 12, as well as the survival/death p44/42 MAPK, ERK1/2-related signaling pathways.

Together, these data suggest that the endocannabinoid system is a potential therapeutic target in neurodegenerative processes, especially in ER-related neurodegenerative diseases.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29134561

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12640-017-9839-1

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Involvement of cannabinoid receptor type 2 in light-induced degeneration of cells from mouse retinal cell line in vitro and mouse photoreceptors in vivo.

Experimental Eye Research

“Earlier studies showed that the expressions of the agonists of the cannabinoid receptors are reduced in the vitreous humor of patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and the cannabinoid type 2 receptor is present in the retinas of rats and monkeys. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the cannabinoid type 2 receptor is involved in the light-induced death of cultured 661W cells, an immortalized murine retinal cell line, and in the light-induced retinal degeneration in mice.

Time-dependent changes in the expression and location of retinal cannabinoid type 2 receptor were determined by Western blot and immunostaining. The cannabinoid type 2 receptor was down-regulated in murine retinae and cone cells. In the in vitro studies, HU-308, a cannabinoidtype 2 receptor agonist, had a protective effect on the light-induced death of 661W cells, and this effect was attenuated by SR144528, a cannabinoid type 2 receptor antagonist.

Because the cannabinoid type 2 receptor is a G-protein coupled receptor and is coupled with Gi/o protein, we investigated the effects of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). HU-308 and H89, a PKA inhibitor, deactivated PKA in retinal cone cells, and H89 also suppressed light-induced cell death. For the in vivo studies, a cannabinoid type 2 receptor agonist, HU-308, or an antagonist, SR144528, was injected intravitreally into mouse eyes before the light exposure. Electroretinography was used to determine the physiological status of the retinas. Injection of HU-308 improved the a- and b-waves of the ERGs and also the thickness of the outer nuclear layer of the murine retina after light exposure.

These findings indicate that the cannabinoid type 2 receptor is involved in the light-induced retinal damage through PKA signaling. Thus, activation of cannabinoidtype 2 receptor may be a therapeutic approach for light-associated retinal diseases.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29133122

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014483516304456?via%3Dihub

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Remote Ischemia Preconditioning Attenuates Blood-Spinal Cord Barrier Breakdown in Rats Undergoing Spinal Cord Ischemia Reperfusion Injury: Associated with Activation and Upregulation of CB1 and CB2 Receptors.

Related image

“Remote ischemic preconditioning (RIPC) has protective effects on spinal cord ischemia reperfusion (I/R) injury, but the potential mechanisms remain unclear. In our study, the effects and underlying mechanisms of RIPC on blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) breakdown following I/R injury were investigated.

RIPC attenuated the motor dysfunction, BSCB disruption and downregulation of occludin after I/R injury, which were impaired by blocking CB1 and CB2 receptors. Moreover, RIPC upregulated the elevated perivascular expression of CB1 and CB2 receptors following I/R injury.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results indicated that RIPC, through activation and upregulation of CB1 and CB2 receptors, was involved in preserving the integrity of BSCB after spinal cord I/R injury.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29130941

https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/484460

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Hypoxia-induced inhibition of the endocannabinoid system in glioblastoma cells.

Journal Cover

“The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in the regulation of physiological and pathological conditions, including inflammation and cancer.

Hypoxia is a fundamental phenomenon for the establishment and maintenance of the microenvironments in various physiological and pathological conditions. However, the influence of hypoxia on the endocannabinoid system is not fully understood. In the present study, we investigated the effects of hypoxia on the endocannabinoid system in malignant brain tumors.

Although cannabinoid receptor (CB) engagement induces cell death in U-87 MG cells in normoxic conditions, CB agonist-induced death was attenuated in hypoxic conditions. These results suggest that hypoxia modifies the endocannabinoid system in glioblastoma cells.

Hypoxia-induced inhibition of the endocannabinoid system may aid the development of glioblastoma.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29130103

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Pharmacokinetic and behavioural profile of THC, CBD, and THC+CBD combination after pulmonary, oral, and subcutaneous administration in rats and confirmation of conversion in vivo of CBD to THC.

European Neuropsychopharmacology Home

“Of central importance was the novel finding that THC can be detected in serum and brain after administration of CBD alone which, if confirmed in humans and given the increasing medical use of CBD-only products, might have important legal and forensic ramifications.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29129557  http://www.europeanneuropsychopharmacology.com/article/S0924-977X(17)30983-5/fulltext

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ACPA and JWH-133 modulate the vascular tone of superior mesenteric arteries through cannabinoid receptors, BKCa channels, and nitric oxide dependent mechanisms.

Pharmacological Reports

“Some cannabinoids, a family of compounds derived from Cannabis sativa (marijuana), have previously shown vasodilator effects in several studies, a feature that makes them suitable for the generation of a potential treatment for hypertension.

The mechanism underlying this vasodilator effect in arteries is still controversial. In this report, we explored how the synthetic cannabinoids ACPA (CB1-selective agonist) and JWH-133 (CB2-selective agonist) regulate the vascular tone of rat superior mesenteric arteries.

CB1 and CB2 receptor activation in superior mesenteric artery causes vasorelaxation by mechanisms involving BKCachannels and NO release.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29128791

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1734114017300361?via%3Dihub

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Cannabidiol as a treatment for epilepsy

Journal of Neurology

“Despite an increasing number of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), the proportion of drug-resistant cases of epilepsy has remained fairly static at around 30% and the search for new and improved AEDs continues.

Cannabis has been used as a medical treatment for epilepsy for thousands of years; it contains many active compounds, the most important being tetrahydrocannabinol, which has psychoactive properties, and cannabidiol, which does not.

Animal models and clinical data to date have suggested that cannabidiol is more useful in treating epilepsy; there is limited evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol has some pro-convulsant effects in animal models. The mechanism by which cannabidiol exerts its anti-convulsant properties is currently unclear.

Conclusion. The evidence is increasing that cannabidiol is an effective treatment option for childhood onset severe treatment-resistant epilepsies with a tolerable side effect and safety profile. Further evidence is needed before cannabidiol can be considered in more common or adult onset epilepsies. Longer-term safety data for cannabidiol, particularly considering its effects on the developing brain, are also required.”

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00415-017-8663-0

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Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics of Oral Cannabidiol Following Administration of PTL101: A New Formulation Based on Gelatin Matrix Pellets Technology.

Clinical Pharmacology in Drug Development

“Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main nonpsychoactive component of the cannabis plant. It has been associated with antiseizure, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and antipsychotic effects.

PTL101 is an oral gelatin matrix pellets technology-based formulation containing highly purified CBD embedded in seamless gelatin matrix beadlets. Study objectives were to evaluate the safety and tolerability of PTL101 containing 10 and 100 mg CBD, following single administrations to healthy volunteers and to compare the pharmacokinetic profiles and relative bioavailability of CBD with Sativex oromucosal spray (the reference product) in a randomized, crossover study design.

Administration of PTL101 containing 10 CBD, led to a 1.7-fold higher Cmax and 1.3-fold higher AUC compared with the oromucosal spray. Tmax following both modes of delivery was 3-3.5 hours postdosing. CBD exhibited about a 1-hour lag in absorption when delivered via PTL101. A 10-fold increase in the dose resulted in an ∼15-fold increase in Cmax and AUC. Bioavailability of CBD in the 10-mg PTL101 dose was 134% relative to the reference spray.

PTL101 is a pharmaceutical-grade, user-friendly oral formulation that demonstrated safe and efficient delivery of CBD and therefore could be an attractive candidate for therapeutic indications.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29125702

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cpdd.408/abstract

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Pharmacotherapy of Apnea by Cannabimimetic Enhancement, the PACE Clinical Trial: Effects of Dronabinol in Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Oxford University Press

“There remains an important and unmet need for fully effective and acceptable treatments in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). At present, there are no approved drug treatments. Dronabinol has shown promise for OSA pharmacotherapy in a small dose-escalation pilot study.

Here, we present initial findings of the Phase II PACE (Pharmacotherapy of Apnea by Cannabimimetic Enhancement) trial, a fully-blinded parallel groups, placebo-controlled randomized trial of dronabinol in patients with moderate or severe OSA.

These findings support the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in patients with OSA. In comparison to placebo, dronabinol was associated with lower AHI, improved subjective sleepiness and greater overall treatment satisfaction. Larger scale clinical trials will be necessary to clarify the best potential approach(es) to cannabinoid therapy in OSA”   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29121334

“These findings support the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).” https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/sleep/zsx184/4600041?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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