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IACM-Bulletin of 16 April 2006

Science: Cannabinoids reduce inflammation of the bowel in animal model

In a mouse model for inflammatory bowel disease cannabinoids reduced inflammation and diarrhoea. Mice received oil of mustard that caused a severe colitis. Both a CB1 receptor agonist and a CB2 receptor agonist reduced colon shrinkage, colon inflammation, and diarrhoea, with the CB1 receptor agonist being somewhat more effective.

There were more CB1 receptors in nerve cells of the large intestine if the bowel was inflamed compared to healthy bowels. There were also more CB1 receptors in the inner wall (endothelium) of the large intestine compared to non-inflamed tissue. There was a high number of CB2 receptors in immune cells that infiltrated the inflamed tissue. Authors note that the demonstration of CB1 receptor effects "reinforce the importance of neuronal activation in intestinal inflammation."

(Source: Kimball ES, Schneider CR, Wallace NH, Hornby PJ. Agonists of cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2 inhibit experimental colitis induced by oil of mustard and by dextran sulfate sodium. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2006 Mar 30; [electronic publication ahead of print])

News in brief

USA: Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics
The Fourth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics was held at Santa Barbara City College from 6 to 8 April. Among the speakers were Donald Abrams, Rick Doblin, Robert Melamede, Daniele Piomelli, Mark Ware, Marco van de Velde, Mary Lynn Mathre, Melanie Dreher and many others. The meeting was organized by Patients Out of Time. During a breakfast on Friday Dr. Tod Mikuriya was given an award for his work for the legalisation of medical cannabis. (Sources: Daily Nexus of 7 April 2006, www.medicalcannabis.com)

Germany: Federal Social Court
In a ruling of 4 April the Federal Social Court implemented the jurisdiction of the Federal Constitutional Court of 6 December 2005. Accordingly, in the case life-threatening or usually fatal disease the health insurances have to pay for a treatment that is not generally accepted in Germany if no alternative treatment options exist and "if there is not too far a prospect of positive influence of the disease process." In the concrete case a medical drug against cancer caused severe side-effects in a patient, so that the physicians administered a drug that was approved in Canada. This ruling may be transferred to a number of cases of a treatment with dronabinol. (Source: Press release of the Federal Social Court of 5 April 2006)

Science: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
In a mouse model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis the application of a synthetic cannabinoid (WIN55,212-2) and the inhibition of endocannabinoid degradation delayed disease onset without affecting life span. In contrast, in genetically manipulated mice without CB1 receptors there was no effect on disease onset but significantly extended life span. Researchers suggest that the beneficial effects of cannabinoids were mediated by non-CB1 receptor mechanisms. (Source: Bilsland LG, et al. FASEB J 2006 Mar 29; [electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Possible endogenous cannabinoid receptor antagonist
Basic research suggests that sphingosine and a synthetic analogue of sphingosine (FTY720) may be antagonists of the CB1 receptor. (Source: Paugh SW, et al. Mol Pharmacol 2006 Mar 29; [electronic publication ahead of print])

Uruguay: Support for legalisation
"The drug business would disappear if drugs were legalised," ex-president Jorge Batlle said in an interview. He supported "investing resources in the care and cure of addicts instead of in totally useless campaigns of repression. Prices would crash, the trillion-dollar market would cease to exist, paramilitary terror gangs, maintained by drug trafficking, would be weakened to eventual disbanding." (Source: ABC Color of 5 April 2006)

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