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IACM-Bulletin of 21 December 2008

Science: THC reduces reflux of acid from the stomach

Researchers of the Academic Medical Centre of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, investigated the effects of THC (dronabinol) on relaxations of the lower oesophageal sphincter (the muscular ring at the lower end of the oesophagus) and reflux of acid from the stomach into the oesophagus (gastro-oesophageal reflux) in dogs and humans. In dogs, dronabinol dose-dependently reduced relaxations of the lower oesophageal sphincter and acid reflux rate, which was reversed by a CB1 receptor antagonist (SR141716A), indicating that this THC effect is mediated by the CB1 receptor.

Based on these results a placebo-controlled study was conducted with 18 healthy volunteers, who received either a placebo, 10 mg dronabinol or 20 mg dronabinol on three occasions. THC significantly reduced the number of relaxations of the lower oesophageal sphincter and caused a non-significant reduction of acid reflux episodes in the first hour after a meal. Gastro-oesophageal reflux is a condition where the lower oesophageal sphincter is abnormally relaxed and allows the stomach's acidic contents to flow back into the oesophagus. This may cause oesophagitis, an inflammation of the inner lining of the oesophagus.

(Source: Beaumont H, Jensen J, Carlsson A, Ruth M, Lehmann A, Boeckxstaens GE. Effect of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, a cannabinoid receptor agonist, on the triggering of transient lower oesophageal sphincter relaxations in dogs and humans. Br J Pharmacol. 2008 Dec 6. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Germany: Fagron has an exclusive license for the import of cannabis to Germany

Medical cannabis will be distributed in Germany by Fagron Germany, a unit of Belgian medical wholesaler Arseus, Arseus said in a statement. Fagron Germany has an exclusive license for the import and distribution of medical cannabis in Germany. The statement says that Fagron Nederland has been active in the Netherlands's medical cannabis market since 2003. Fagron Netherlands is responsible for the distribution of cannabis to Dutch pharmacies.

Use of the plant as a medicine is not legal in Germany. However, the Federal Institute for Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products has permitted four people to acquire cannabis from pharmacies. The exceptions were based on the advice of several doctors and only after it had been established that no other treatment would help.

More at:
www.reuters.com/article/rbssPharmaceuticals%20-%20Generic%20&%20Specialty/idUSL89274320081208

(Source: Reuters of 8 December 2008)

News in brief

Science: Multiple sclerosis
A Spanish group of scientists investigated the effects of a synthetic cannabinoid (WIN55,212-2) on an animal model of multiple sclerosis. They found that the cannabinoid significantly inhibited brain adhesion molecules. These molecules regulate the migration of white blood cells across the blood-brain barrier in multiple sclerosis. This may explain the anti-inflammatory effect of THC in multiple sclerosis. (Source: Mestre L, et al. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2008 Nov 19. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Liver transplant
Scientists of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, USA, investigated the effects of cannabis use on outcome after liver transplant, especially survival. They included 155 cannabis users and 1334 patients, who did not use cannabis. Cannabis use had no significant effect on survival after liver transplant. (Source: Ranney DN, et al. Am J Transplant. 2008 Nov 27. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

USA: New Jersey
Governor Jon S. Corzine said that he supports and would sign a bill allowing medicinal cannabis use. The state Senate Health Committee approved a medical cannabis bill by a 6-1 vote on 15 December. The bill now goes to the whole senate. (Source: Press of Atlantic City of 17 December 2008)

Science: Damage to the kidneys
The non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) was shown to reduce the damage to the kidneys induced by cisplatin in an animal study. Cisplatin is used in chemotherapies against cancer. CBD attenuated oxidative stress, inflammation and cell death in the kidney, and improved renal function. Researchers concluded that "cannabidiol may represent a promising new protective strategy against cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity." (Source: Pan H, et al. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2008 Dec 12. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Periodontitis
According to a study with rats cannabidiol decreased bone resorption by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines during experimental periodontitis. (Source: Napimoga MH, et al. Int Immunopharmacol. 2008 Dec 11. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Cancer of the liver
Researchers of the University of Palermo, Italy, demonstrated that a synthetic cannabinoid (WIN55,212-2) caused programmed cell death in liver cancer cells. This may indicate a therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in cancer of the liver. (Source: Giuliano M, et al. Biochimie. 2008 Nov 27. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Lung cancer
A study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, investigated the effects of cannabis smoking on lung cancer risk in 430 patients with lung cancer in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. All cannabis smokers were also tobacco users. Cannabis use doubled the risk for lung cancer after adjustment of other variables. Researchers concluded that "cannabis smoking may be a risk factor for lung cancer. However, residual confounding by tobacco smoking or other potential confounders may explain part of the increased risk." (Source: Berthiller J, et al. J Thorac Oncol 2008;3(12):1398-403.)

Science: Urine testing
In a study by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse in Maryland, USA, 60 regular cannabis users were monitored during 30 days of abstinence and their urine tested on the presents of THC-COOH. There were considerable fluctuations between days with a positive urine test and days with a negative test during this period and not a constant decline in THC-COOH concentrations. Mean number of days until the first negative test (THC-COOH below 50 ng/ml in an immunoassay) was 3.2 days and mean number of days until the last positive test was 15.4 days. (Source: Goodwin RS, et al. J Anal Toxicol 2008;32(8):562-9.)

USA: California
The Harborside Health Center, a city-licensed medical cannabis dispensary, announced that it has begun laboratory analysis of its cannabis products. All medicinal cannabis products accepted for distribution to HHC will be tested for safety and potency. (Source: Press release by Harborside Health Center of 11 December 2008)

Morocco: Discussion on legalisation
On 3 December the issue of cannabis legalisation was discussed in the Moroccan television. The main question was if it is possible to direct the cultivation of cannabis towards therapeutical and industrial uses. A summary of the discussion is available at: www.encod.org/info/MOROCCO-OPENS-THE-DEBATE-ON.html (Source: ENCOD)

Science/Germany: Spice
The new drug spice, which is advertised in the internet as a herbal mixture for fumigation, but is usually smoked and has effects similar to cannabis contains the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 according to an analysis by a Frankfurt laboratory (THC Pharm). Shortly after the detection of the active principle spice was prohibited in Austria. (Source: Frankfurter Rundschau, THC Pharm)

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