Tetrahydrocannabinol Modulates in Vitro Maturation of Oocytes and Improves the Blastocyst Rates after in Vitro Fertilization.

 

Image result for Cellular Physiology & Biochemistry“Among the assisted reproductive techniques, the in vitro maturation of oocytes (IVM) is less developed than other techniques, but its implementation would entail a qualitative advance.

This technique consists in the extraction of immature oocytes from antral ovarian follicles with the patient under low hormone stimulation or without hormone to mature exogenously in culture media supplemented with different molecules to promote maturation.

In this sense, we are interested in the role that cannabinoids could have as IVM promoters because cannabinoid’s molecular pathway is similar to the one by which oocyte’s meiosis resumption is activated.

With the intention of advancing in the possible use of cannabinoids as supplements for the media for in vitro maturation of oocytes, we intend to deepen the study of the function of the phytocannabinoid Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the IVM process.

RESULTS:

This study confirms that the incubation of oocytes with THC during IVM accelerated some events of that process like the phosphorylation pattern of ERK and AKT and was able to increase the blastocyst rate in response to IVF. Moreover, it seems that both CB1 and CB2 are necessary to maintain a healthy oocyte maturation.

CONCLUSION:

Our data suggest that THC may be useful IVM supplements in clinic as is more feasible and reliable than any synthetic cannabinoid.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31436397

https://www.cellphysiolbiochem.com/Articles/000149/

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The effectiveness of self-directed medical cannabis treatment for pain

Complementary Therapies in Medicine“The prior medical literature offers little guidance as to how pain relief and side effect manifestation may vary across commonly used and commercially available cannabis product types. We used the largest dataset in the United States of real-time responses to and side effect reporting from patient-directed cannabis consumption sessions for the treatment of pain under naturalistic conditions in order to identify how cannabis affects momentary pain intensity levels and which product characteristics are the best predictors of therapeutic pain relief.

Between 06/06/2016 and 10/24/2018, 2987 people used the ReleafApp to record 20,513 cannabis administration measuring cannabis’ effects on momentary pain intensity levels across five pain categories: musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, nerve, headache-related, or non-specified pain. The average pain reduction was –3.10 points on a 0–10 visual analogue scale (SD = 2.16, d = 1.55, p < .001).

Whole Cannabis flower was associated with greater pain relief than were other types of products, and higher tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels were the strongest predictors of analgesia and side effects prevalence across the five pain categories. In contrast, cannabidiol (CBD) levels generally were not associated with pain relief except for a negative association between CBD and relief from gastrointestinal and non-specified pain.

These findings suggest benefits from patient-directed, cannabis therapy as a mid-level analgesic treatment; however, effectiveness and side effect manifestation vary with the characteristics of the product used.

The results suggest that Cannabis flower with moderate to high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol is an effective mid-level analgesic.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229919308040

“UNM study confirms cannabis flower is an effective mid-level analgesic medication for pain treatment. Cannabis likely has numerous constituents that possess analgesic properties beyond THC, including terpenes and flavonoids, which likely act synergistically for people that use whole dried cannabis flower, Cannabis offers the average patient an effective alternative to using opioids for general use in the treatment of pain with very minimal negative side effects for most people.”  https://news.unm.edu/news/unm-study-confirms-cannabis-flower-is-an-effective-mid-level-analgesic-medication-for-pain-treatment

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Urgent need for “EBMM” in pediatric oncology: Evidence based medical marijuana.

Publication Cover“Marijuana has been used by many different civilizations for numerous different purposes, including its use for medical indications. Recently, there has been significant media coverage of the efficacy of medical marijuana in the treatment of seizures in children with Dravet syndrome, and this has led many to search for other possible pediatric indications for cannabinoids, including many different indications in pediatric cancer. However, there is very little evidence on safety or efficacy of cannabinoids in children being treated with cancer. This commentary accompanies a recent paper by a group in Israel who have published their experience of medical marijuana in 50 children and adolescents with cancer, showing excellent satisfaction and better symptom control, and without significant adverse drug reactions. This study from Israel is an excellent first step, but prospective well-designed trials of medical marijuana in pediatric oncology are urgently needed.”

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Attitudes and Beliefs About Medical Usefulness and Legalization of Marijuana among Cancer Patients in a Legalized and a Nonlegalized State.

View details for Journal of Palliative Medicine cover image “There is a growing preference for the use of marijuana for medical purposes, despite limited evidence regarding its benefits and potential safety risks. Legalization status may play a role in the attitudes and preferences toward medical marijuana(MM).

Objectives: The attitudes and beliefs of cancer patients in a legalized (Arizona) versus nonlegalized state (Texas) regarding medical and recreational legalization and medical usefulness of marijuana were compared.

 

Results: The majority of individuals support legalization of marijuana for medical use (Arizona 92% [85-97%] vs. Texas 90% [82-95%]; p = 0.81) and belief in its medical usefulness (Arizona 97% [92-99%] vs. Texas 93% [86-97%]; p = 0.33) in both states. Overall, 181 (91%) patients supported legalization for medical purposes whereas 80 (40%) supported it for recreational purposes (p < 0.0001). Patients preferred marijuana over current standard treatments for anxiety (60% [51-68%]; p = 0.003). Patients found to favor legalizing MM were younger (p = 0.027), had worse fatigue (p = 0.015), appetite (p = 0.004), anxiety (p = 0.017), and were Cut Down, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye Opener-Adapted to Include Drugs (CAGE-AID) positive for alcohol/drugs (p < 0.0001).

Conclusion: Cancer patients from both legalized and nonlegalized states supported legalization of marijuana for medical purposes and believed in its medical use. The support for legalization for medical use was significantly higher than for recreational use in both states.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31386595

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jpm.2019.0218

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THE EFFECTS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES ON ADVERSE OPIOID OUTCOMES

 Publication cover image“As more states enact laws liberalizing marijuana use and the U.S. opioid epidemic surges to unprecedented levels, understanding the relationship between marijuana and opioids is growing increasingly important.

Using a unique self‐constructed marijuana dispensary dataset, I estimate the impact of increased marijuana access on opioid‐related harms.

I exploit within‐ and across‐state variation in dispensary openings and find county‐level prescription opioid‐related fatalities decline by 11% following the opening a dispensary.

The estimated dispensary effects are qualitatively similar for opioid‐related admissions to treatment facilities. These results are strongest for males and suggest a substitutability between marijuana and opioids.”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ecin.12825

“I find that core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) with dispensary openings experience a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment admissions over the first two years of dispensary operations.”

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3012381

Access to medical marijuana reduces opioid prescriptions”  https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/access-to-medical-marijuana-reduces-opioid-prescriptions-2018050914509

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THE EFFECTS OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION AND DISPENSING ON OPIOID MORTALITY

Publication cover image“This study documents how the changing legal status of marijuana has impacted mortality in the United States over the past two decades.

We use a difference‐in‐difference approach to estimate the effect of medical marijuana laws (MML) and recreational marijuana laws (RML) on fatalities from opioid overdoses, and we find that marijuana access induces sharp reductions in opioid mortality rates.

Our research corroborates prior findings on MMLs and offers the first causal estimates of RML impacts on opioid mortality to date, the latter of which is particularly important given that RMLs are far more expansive in scope and reach than MMLs.

In our preferred econometric specification, we estimate that RMLs reduce annual opioid mortality in the range of 20%–35%, with particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids. In further analysis, we demonstrate how RML impacts vary among demographic groups, shedding light on the distributional consequences of these laws.

Our findings are especially important and timely given the scale of the opioid crisis in the United States and simultaneously evolving attitudes and regulations on marijuana use.”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ecin.12819

“Marijuana legalization reduces opioid deaths. A new Economic Inquiry study finds that marijuana access leads to reductions in opioid-related deaths.” https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-08-marijuana-legalization-opioid-deaths.html
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Olivia Newton John says medicinal cannabis is key to her cancer recovery

“Olivia Newton-John says medicinal marijuana is a key part of her treatment for stage four cancer. In an exclusive interview with 60 Minutes reporter Liz Hayes, Newton-John says that not only has cannabis assisted with her pain management, sleep and anxiety – but it’s having affects on her physical health too. “I’m incredibly pro cannabis,” she told Liz Hayes. “If I don’t take the cannabis, I can feel the pain so I know it’s working.”

 “Newton-John is maintaining her health with a combination of conventional and alternative medicines and remedies. But her husband of ten years, John Easterling, says he’s confident medicinal cannabis is contributing significantly to maintaining her health.
Easterling, who spent years cultivating herbs from the Amazon, has long held a strong belief in the medicinal power of plants. In a greenhouse at the Santa Barbara ranch the couple share in California, he grows various strains of cannabis that he uses to help treat his wife. “Cannabis can be used for so many things,” he told Hayes. “I don’t use the word cure…. but I’m confident. We had MRIs showing a lesser number of tumours, and the majority of the other ones are shrinking.”
 “Now a cannabis convert, Newton-John is joining the fight for medicinal cannabis to be legalised. She and Easterling want Australians to have greater access to the plant, like they do in their home state of California – where both medicinal and recreational cannabis is legal.  She’s also hoping to break down the stigma surrounding cannabis use.
“It’s not a drug, it’s a herb and a plant,” she told Hayes. “I think when people use the word drug, it’s a misconception as to what it is and it gets people thinking, ‘oh it’s just another drug’, but it’s not.” Doctors at the Olivia Newton-John Research Institute will conduct a clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis later this year.”
 
 “EXCLUSIVE: Olivia Newton-John and Chloe Lattanzi emotional interview | 60 Minutes Australia” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJtPgpedcFo&feature=share

“Olivia Newton-John: ‘Medicinal cannabis enhanced my quality of life’.  For this special 60 Minutes report, Olivia Newton-John tells Liz Hayes that despite her latest diagnosis she was “getting strong again” and that her quality of life had been greatly enhanced by medicinal cannabis, grown for her by her husband John. Olivia and John are strong believers in the power of plants particularly cannabis. “I really believe the cannabis has made a huge difference,” says Olivia. “I’m confident,” John concurs. Olivia, John and Chloe are now cannabis converts, and now want medicinal cannabis legalised as an alternative treatment in Australia.” https://www.9news.com.au/national/olivia-newton-john-60-minutes-medical-cannabis-advocate-after-cancer-treatment-news/da315271-7387-47e0-a14e-c7fbb9a4b18b

“I have to credit again my wonderful husband because he gives me Cannabis oil that he makes for me, grows the plants here. We’re so lucky in California that we can grow our own, and so he’s made me these incredible tinctures that help with my pain and with sleep, and everything.” https://www.today.com/video/watch-olivia-newton-john-s-full-interview-with-natalie-morales-1455610947796

 Olivia Newton-John: “The choices of your treatment is a very personal thing. I can’t tell anyone else what they should do. I’d like to tell you all something that I did that people should know about. I’ve mixed traditional medicine and herbal medicine and homoeopathic medicine and a lot of mind-body spiritual focus. Staying positive and believing I can get well is really important. I’m very fortunate that I have a husband who’s a plant medicine man who helps me with herbs and medicinal cannabis, it’s been a huge part of my journey. I weaned myself off morphine with cannabis and I just want people to know that that is possible and it’s not going to kill you. If we can start teaching people that cannabis can help keep the pain away and not kill you, that’s an important message to get out there. I want to see an end to cancer in my lifetime. I’ve had three bouts with cancer. I am living with it well, and I think I’m going to see an end of it. And that’s my dream, that it will be gone.” https://www.image.ie/life/olivia-newton-john-shares-her-advice-for-women-with-cancer-154470
 “”I want to see an end to cancer in my lifetime. And if it could be through cannabis, or helping people with cannabis, the patients, particularly who are in pain, that’s my goal. I want everyone to have access to this amazing plant”” https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=269501097009373
 ““I truly believe medicinal cannabis will play a huge part in defeating cancer.”“I absolutely believe all patients should have the right to try. It is a matter of common-sense and it is a compassionate thing to do for people,” she said,” https://starinvesting.com.au/medicinal-cannabis-to-play-huge-role-in-beating-cancer-olivia-newton-john/
Olivia Newton-John reveals she’s using marijuana grown by her husband to fight cancer – and says reports she was on death’s door hurt her deeply. Australian singing sensation Olivia Newton-John says she has been using marijuana grown by her husband to help her through her cancer battle. ‘I really believe the cannabis has made a huge difference,'”
“‘It Has Helped Incredibly’. It’s an amazing plant, a maligned plant, but it’s helping so many people.”” https://www.inquisitr.com/5330159/home-grown-cannabis-is-helping-olivia-newton-john-amid-cancer-battle-it-has-helped-incredibly/
“Olivia Newton-John says she uses cannabis to treat her stage 4 breast cancer… and her husband grows it at home” https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-6782847/Olivia-Newton-John-uses-cannabis-treat-stage-4-breast-cancer.html
““I’m Living With Cancer and It’s Going Away!” Olivia Newton John Declares That Her Body is “Winning” Against Stage 4 Cancer” https://www.survivornet.com/articles/im-living-with-cancer-and-its-going-away-olivia-newton-john-declares-that-her-body-is-winning-against-stage-4-cancer/
“Mainstream media has reported that the cannabis tincture she takes helps with pain, but Amazon John Easterling eagerly expounds on its many healing properties, including the potential to cause cancer cell death. “Cannabis initiates a number of healing responses that can result in apoptosis, cancer cell death—while healing and strengthening the body,” he detailed. His focus is on the plant as chemovar, a more scientific approach to looking at the many compounds, via terpene and cannabinoid extraction from the whole plant to treat the cancer and the entire body, building the immune system so it can aid in fighting the disease.“ https://culturemagazine.com/olivia-newton-john-and-john-easterling/
“Medicinal cannabis is a big part of my recovery. I’m living proof that it works. It’s a healing herb.” https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1580591005362546
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Targeting Cannabinoid Signaling in the Immune System: “High”-ly Exciting Questions, Possibilities, and Challenges

Image result for frontiers in immunology“It is well known that certain active ingredients of the plants of Cannabis genus, i.e., the “phytocannabinoids” [pCBs; e.g., (−)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), (−)-cannabidiol, etc.] can influence a wide array of biological processes, and the human body is able to produce endogenous analogs of these substances [“endocannabinoids” (eCB), e.g., arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), etc.]. These ligands, together with multiple receptors (e.g., CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, etc.), and a complex enzyme and transporter apparatus involved in the synthesis and degradation of the ligands constitute the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a recently emerging regulator of several physiological processes. The ECS is widely expressed in the human body, including several members of the innate and adaptive immune system, where eCBs, as well as several pCBs were shown to deeply influence immune functions thereby regulating inflammation, autoimmunity, antitumor, as well as antipathogen immune responses, etc. Based on this knowledge, many in vitro and in vivo studies aimed at exploiting the putative therapeutic potential of cannabinoid signaling in inflammation-accompanied diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis) or in organ transplantation, and to dissect the complex immunological effects of medical and “recreational” marijuana consumption. Thus, the objective of the current article is (i) to summarize the most recent findings of the field; (ii) to highlight the putative therapeutic potential of targeting cannabinoid signaling; (iii) to identify open questions and key challenges; and (iv) to suggest promising future directions for cannabinoid-based drug development.

Active Components of Cannabis sativa (Hemp)—Phytocannabinoids (pCBs) and Beyond

It is known since ancient times that consumption of different parts of the plant Cannabis sativa can lead to psychotropic effects. Moreover, mostly, but not exclusively because of its potent analgesic actions, it was considered to be beneficial in the management of several diseases. Nowadays it is a common knowledge that these effects were mediated by the complex mixture of biologically active substances produced by the plant. So far, at least 545 active compounds have been identified in it, among which, the best-studied ones are the so-called pCBs. It is also noteworthy that besides these compounds, ca. 140 different terpenes [including the potent and selective CB2 agonist sesquiterpene β-caryophyllene (BCP)], multiple flavonoids, alkanes, sugars, non-cannabinoid phenols, phenylpropanoids, steroids, fatty acids, and various nitrogenous compounds can be found in the plant, individual biological actions of which are mostly still nebulous. Among the so far identified > 100 pCBs, the psychotropic (−)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-psychotropic (−)-cannabidiol (CBD) are the best-studied ones, exerting a wide-variety of biological actions [including but not exclusively: anticonvulsive, analgesic, antiemetic, and anti inflammatory effects]. Of great importance, pCBs have been shown to modulate the activity of a plethora of cellular targets, extending their impact far beyond the “classical” (see above) cannabinoid signaling. Indeed, besides being agonists [or in some cases even antagonists of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, some pCBs were shown to differentially modulate the activity of certain TRP channels, PPARs, serotonin, α adrenergic, adenosine or opioid receptors, and to inhibit COX and lipoxygenase enzymes, FAAH, EMT, etc.. Moreover, from a clinical point-of-view, it should also be noted that pCBs can indirectly modify pharmacokinetics of multiple drugs (e.g., cyclosporine A) by interacting with several cytochrome P 450 (CYP) enzymes. Taken together, pCBs can be considered as multitarget polypharmacons, each of them having unique “molecular fingerprints” created by the characteristic activation/inhibition pattern of its locally available cellular targets.

Concluding Remarks—Lessons to Learn from Cannabis

Research efforts of the past few decades have unambiguously evidenced that ECS is one of the central orchestrators of both innate and adaptive immune systems, and that pure pCBs as well as complex cannabis-derivatives can also deeply influence immune responses. Although, many open questions await to be answered, pharmacological modulation of the (endo)cannabinoid signaling, and restoration of the homeostatic eCB tone of the tissues augur to be very promising future directions in the management of several pathological inflammation-accompanied diseases. Moreover, in depth analysis of the (quite complex) mechanism-of-action of the most promising pCBs is likely to shed light to previously unknown immune regulatory mechanisms and can therefore pave new “high”-ways toward developing completely novel classes of therapeutic agents to manage a wide-variety of diseases.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01487/full

www.frontiersin.org

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Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide

Publication Cover“In the current study we use a synthetic control group design to estimate the causal effect of a medical marijuana initiative on suicide risk.

In 1996, California legalized marijuana use for medical purposes. Implementation was abrupt and uniform, presenting a “natural experiment.” Utilizing a panel dataset containing annual frequencies of Total, gun, and non-gun suicides aggregated by state for the years 1970–2004, we construct a control time series for California as a weighted combination of the 41 states that did not legalize marijuana during the analysis period. Post-intervention differences for California and its constructed control time series can be interpreted as the effects of the medical marijuana law on suicide. Significance of the effects were assessed with permutation tests.

Our findings suggest that California’s 1996 legalization resulted in statistically significant (p<.05) reductions in suicides and gun suicides, but only a non-significant reduction in non-gun suicides (p≥.488). Since the effect for non-gun suicides was indistinguishable from chance, we infer that the overall causal effect was realized through gun suicides. The mechanism could not be determined, however. Participation in the medical marijuana program legally disqualifies participants from purchasing guns. But since most suicides involve guns, it is possible that the effect on total suicide is driven by gun suicide alone.”

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13811118.2019.1612803

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Strong reasons make strong actions: medical cannabis and cancer—a call for collective action

Logo of curroncol“Call it cannabis, not marijuana or weed.

It has been more than 17 years since the Canadian prohibitory regulations on the use of medical cannabis began to ease and more than 17 weeks (more than 6 months by the time of publication) since the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) became law. Cannabis use for medical purposes has been part of the historical record and medical writings for millennia. However, it is only in the last 30 years that the workings of the human endocannabinoid system have been described and its receptors discovered. Amazing as all of those developments have been, the challenge of reintegrating cannabis into the science of modern medicine—and particularly care for patients with cancer—is a need whose time has come.

Surveys inform us that patients with cancer are using cannabis to manage symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatment. More concerning is that their use is for a medical need occurring outside the confines of modern cancer care, with patients accessing their cannabis from friends and family, and often from casual or unlicensed suppliers. Beliefs in the benefits of cannabis—for its yet unfounded therapeutic potential—are commonly held or supported by poor-quality evidence. Patients and their caregivers are inundated with media stories about a budding industry and its mergers and acquisitions while it grows to meet a need for what is regarded by some as overlooked and undertreated ailments. How should oncologists and the oncology team, trusted as the informed and compassionate advocates for their patients, reconcile the overwhelming public attention being given to this product—growing more, creating new routes of administration, and reaching for new uses—with the work needed to further the science of cannabis as it pertains to cancer care?

The onus is on us, the community of cancer care providers, to act.

Therapeutic and clinical developments in oncology are resulting in improvements in the survival of many patients. Costly immunologic therapies are promising and are being implemented for a variety of cancers. New science about the microbiome, about cancer detection, and about targeted therapies are being researched. And yet, contrasted against those celebrations of scientific ingenuity are the glaring gaps in the work pertaining to cannabis to settle unsubstantiated claims and anecdotal observations of this elixir for the ages. As clinicians and scientists, we must work to generate the needed evidence-based outcomes and to document or dispel the potential interactions and sequelae between cannabis and prescribed cancer treatments. “There are in fact two things, science and opinion, the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance”.

The frameworks to lead this charge are ours to create. The current legal framework is focused on issues of access and control to regulate production, distribution, and sale. The medical framework for cannabis research is more tenuous, concentrated in silos of expertise as a result of the previous prohibitory environment. The study of cannabis is ripe for development, but even intra-institutional endeavors require help. The machinery of science requires some assembly and repurposing to address the new challenges.

If the current and future oncology landscape is a challenge for those working in cancer care, we must remember that patients deserve our compassion as they attempt to navigate this emotional journey with or without cannabis. More importantly, they need our support and deserve to see us take leadership in cannabis research. Oncologists who have expertise in both the clinical and scientific worlds must inform the necessary work. We must be the architects of its design, building bridges to industry and patients, while engaging our academic institutions.

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success”.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6588059/

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