Stroke survivors could be given cannabis to reduce brain damage

“SCIENTISTS are considering running a trial which would see stroke survivors given the illegal class-B drug cannabis in a bid to reduce brain damage.

The “exciting” research has been compiled by researchers at the University of Nottingham, who have pulled together research from around the world to suggest that ‘cannabinoids’ – chemicals related to those found in cannabis, some of which also occur naturally in the body – could reduce the size of stroke and improve neurological function.

The research – so far which has only been done on rats – indicates that all three classes of cannabinoid could be effective in shrinking the area of the brain affected by stroke and in recovering neurological function.

Dr Tim England honorary consultant stroke physician at the University of Nottingham and Royal Derby Hospital led the study.

He said: “This meta-analysis of pre-clinical stroke studies provides valuable information on the existing, and importantly, missing data on the use of cannabinoids as a potential treatment for stroke patients.”

http://www.nottinghampost.com/Stroke-survivors-given-cannabis-reduce-brain/story-20249666-detail/story.html

 

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Cannabis could help fix brain after stroke – research

Researchers have identified the potential for cannabinoids to reduce brain damage caused by stroke.
Photo / Thinkstock

“Cannabis may help to reduce brain damage after a stroke, new research suggests.

Chemical compounds found in the plant could help shrink the area of the brain affected by stroke, the study says.

Cannabinoids in the plant, as well as those that can be made artificially and those found naturally in the body, can also help improve brain function after a stroke attack, the authors said.”

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11166326

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Cannabis – the new weight loss secret?

“Now we might know why dopers look so thin and gaunt. Cannabis facilitates weight loss!”

Cannabis

“Two cannabis compounds can raise the quantum of energy the body burns and keep obesity at bay. Called THCV and cannabidiol, they were found to have an appetite suppressing effect too for a short while. Animal tests have shown these compounds can help treat type two diabetes while also lowering levels of cholesterol in the blood stream and fat in key organs like the liver.

Scientists also found the compounds also had an impact on the level of fat and its response to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, the Telegraph reports. THCV was also found to increase the animals’ sensitivity to insulin while also protecting the cells that produce insulin, allowing them to work better and for longer.

Steph Wright, director of research and development at GW Pharmaceuticals developing the drugs, said: “The results in animal models have been very encouraging. We are interested in how these drugs effect the fat distribution and utilisation in the body as a treatment for metabolic diseases”. We are conducting four Phase 2 clinical trials and we expect some results later this year,” Wright said. 

Tests in mice showed the compounds boosted their metabolism, leading to lower levels of fat in their livers and reduced cholesterol in their blood stream. They are now conducting clinical trials in 200 patients in the hope of producing a drug that can be used to treat patients suffering from “metabolic syndrome”, where diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity combine to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Mike Cawthorne, director of metabolic research at the University of Buckingham who has been conducting the animal studies, said: “Over all, it seems these molecules increase energy expenditure in the cells of the body by increasing the metabolism”.”

http://health.india.com/news/cannabis-the-new-weight-loss-secret/

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Recent advantages in cannabinoid research.

Abstract

“Although the active component of cannabis Delta9-THC was isolated by our group 35 years ago, until recently its mode of action remained obscure. In the last decade it was established that Delta9-THC acts through specific receptors – CB1 and CB2 – and mimics the physiological activity of endogenous cannabinoids of two types, the best known representatives being arachidonoylethanolamide (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). THC is officially used against vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy and for enhancing appetite, particularly in AIDS patients. Illegally, usually by smoking marijuana, it is used for ameliorating the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, against pain, and in a variety of other diseases. A synthetic cannabinoid, HU-211, is in advanced clinical tests against brain damage caused by closed head injury. It may prove to be valuable against stroke and other neurological diseases.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10575284

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High hopes for new marijuana drug

Marijuana

“Researchers have developed a synthetic compound which gives the benefits of marijuana without the high.

US researchers are developing a marijuana-derived synthetic compound to relieve pain and inflammation without the mood-altering side effects associated with other marijuana based drugs.

Professor Sumner Burstein, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, presented his team’s findings at last week’s national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

He is hopeful about the potential of the synthetic compound to treat a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis.

The synthetic compound is called ajulemic acid, and has a formula based on that of THC. It has already produced encouraging results in animal studies of pain and inflammation, and is currently being tested on humans.

Exactly how ajulemic acid works is still under investigation but it appears to suppress chemical mediators, such as prostaglandins and cytokines, known to cause inflammation.

“We believe the compound will replace aspirin and similar drugs in most applications because of its lack of toxic side effects”, said Professor Burstein, referring to extensive animal studies, as well as a safety trial of the compound conducted in France last year among 15 healthy volunteers.

No clinically adverse effects were reported, including gastrointestinal ulcers, which have been associated with other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compounds such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

But most significantly, no mood-altering side effects were reported. With an increasing number of medically beneficial compounds being found in marijuana, such as THC and CBD, researchers have been searching for years for ways to utilise these therapeutically without their associated “high”. They have had little success until now.

“Some people want the high,” admits Professor Burstein. “But the medical community wants efficacy without this effect.”

As well as animal studies of their own that show the compound is as potent a painkiller as morphine, Professor Burstein notes other promising animal studies that have been published. In rodent models of rheumatoid arthritis, the compound prevented joint damage. Tests of MS in rats showed the drug relieves muscle stiffness associated with the disease.

It is now undergoing tests in Germany in a group of 21 patients with chronic pain who take ajulemic acid orally twice daily, in capsule form.

Depending on these results, which will be available in about six weeks, the researchers predict the synthetic compound could be on offer by prescription within two years.

It could also be a promising alternative to current drugs used to treat arthritis, such as COX-2 inhibitors. These have been linked to adverse side effects, including heart attacks and stroke.”

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2002/08/26/656786.htm?fb_action_ids=460011707368809&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

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Targeting the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoid receptor agonists: pharmacological strategies and therapeutic possibilities.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: 367 (1607)

“Human tissues express cannabinoid CB(1) and CB(2) receptors that can be activated by endogenously released ‘endocannabinoids’ or exogenously administered compounds in a manner that reduces the symptoms or opposes the underlying causes of several disorders in need of effective therapy. Three medicines that activate cannabinoid CB(1)/CB(2) receptors are now in the clinic: Cesamet (nabilone), Marinol (dronabinol; Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ(9)-THC)) and Sativex (Δ(9)-THC with cannabidiol). These can be prescribed for the amelioration of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (Cesamet and Marinol), stimulation of appetite (Marinol) and symptomatic relief of cancer pain and/or management of neuropathic pain and spasticity in adults with multiple sclerosis (Sativex). This review mentions several possible additional therapeutic targets for cannabinoid receptor agonists. These include other kinds of pain, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, cancer, drug dependence, glaucoma, autoimmune uveitis, osteoporosis, sepsis, and hepatic, renal, intestinal and cardiovascular disorders. It also describes potential strategies for improving the efficacy and/or benefit-to-risk ratio of these agonists in the clinic. These are strategies that involve (i) targeting cannabinoid receptors located outside the blood-brain barrier, (ii) targeting cannabinoid receptors expressed by a particular tissue, (iii) targeting upregulated cannabinoid receptors, (iv) selectively targeting cannabinoid CB(2) receptors, and/or (v) adjunctive ‘multi-targeting’.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23108552

“Targeting the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoid receptor agonists: pharmacological strategies and therapeutic possibilities”  http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1607/3353.long

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[The role of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of endocrine function and in the control of energy balance in humans].

Abstract

“The endocannabinoid system has been recently recognized as an important modulatory system in the function of brain, endocrine, and immune tissues. It appears to play a very important regulatory role in the secretion of hormones related to reproductive functions and response to stress. The important elements of this system are: endocannabinoid receptors (types CB1 and CB2), their endogenous ligands (N-arachidonoylethanolamide, 2-arachidonoyl glycerol), enzymes involved in their synthesis and degradation, as well as cannabinoid antagonists. In humans this system also controls energy homeostasis and mainly influences the function of the food intake centers of the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract activity. The endocannabinoid system regulates not only the central and peripheral mechanisms of food intake, but also lipids synthesis and turnover in the liver and adipose tissue as well as glucose metabolism in muscle cells. Rimonabant, a new and selective central and peripheral cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB1) blocker, has been shown to reduce body weight and improve cardiovascular risk factor (metabolic syndrome) in obese patients by increasing HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin blood levels as well as decreasing LDL-cholesterol, leptin, and C-reactive protein (a proinflammatory marker) concentrations. It is therefore possible to speculate about a future clinical use of CB1 antagonists, as a means of improving gonadotrophin pulsatility and fertilization capacity as well as the prevention of cardiovasculary disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Drugs acting as agonists of CB1 receptors (Dronabinol, Dexanabinol) are currently proposed for evaluation as drugs to treat neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases), epilepsy, anxiety, and stroke.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17369778

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The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy

Abstract

“The recent identification of cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous lipid ligands has triggered an exponential growth of studies exploring the endocannabinoid system and its regulatory functions in health and disease. Such studies have been greatly facilitated by the introduction of selective cannabinoid receptor antagonists and inhibitors of endocannabinoid metabolism and transport, as well as mice deficient in cannabinoid receptors or the endocannabinoid-degrading enzyme fatty acid amidohydrolase. In the past decade, the endocannabinoid system has been implicated in a growing number of physiological functions, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs. More importantly, modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few. An impediment to the development of cannabinoid medications has been the socially unacceptable psychoactive properties of plant-derived or synthetic agonists, mediated by CB(1) receptors. However, this problem does not arise when the therapeutic aim is achieved by treatment with a CB(1) receptor antagonist, such as in obesity, and may also be absent when the action of endocannabinoids is enhanced indirectly through blocking their metabolism or transport. The use of selective CB(2) receptor agonists, which lack psychoactive properties, could represent another promising avenue for certain conditions. The abuse potential of plant-derived cannabinoids may also be limited through the use of preparations with controlled composition and the careful selection of dose and route of administration. The growing number of preclinical studies and clinical trials with compounds that modulate the endocannabinoid system will probably result in novel therapeutic approaches in a number of diseases for which current treatments do not fully address the patients’ need. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview on the current state of knowledge of the endocannabinoid system as a target of pharmacotherapy.”

Future Directions

“The length of this review, necessitated by the steady growth in the number of indications for the potential therapeutic use of cannabinoid-related medications, is a clear sign of the emerging importance of this field. This is further underlined by the quantity of articles in the public database dealing with the biology of cannabinoids, which numbered ∼200 to 300/year throughout the 1970s to reach an astonishing 5900 in 2004. The growing interest in the underlying science has been matched by a growth in the number of cannabinoid drugs in pharmaceutical development from two in 1995 to 27 in 2004, with the most actively pursued therapeutic targets being pain, obesity, and multiple sclerosis (Hensen, 2005). As in any rapidly growing area of research, not all the leads will turn out to be useful or even valid. Nevertheless, it is safe to predict that new therapeutic agents that affect the activity of the endocannaboinoid system will emerge and become members of our therapeutic armamentarium. The plant-derived cannabinoid preparation Sativex has already gained regulatory approval in Canada for the treatment of spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis, and the CB1 receptor antagonist rimonabant has been approved in Europe and is awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval in the United States for the treatment of the metabolic syndrome. Undoubtedly, these will be followed by new and improved compounds aimed at the same or additional targets in the endocannabinoid system. However, it may be only after the widespread therapeutic use of such compounds that some important side effects will emerge. Although this occurrence would be undesirable from a health care perspective, such side effects may shed further light on the biological functions of endocannabinoids in health and disease.”

http://pharmrev.aspetjournals.org/content/58/3/389.long

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