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IACM-Bulletin of 13 September 2011

IACM: General Meeting changes statutes to increase number of patient representatives

On its General Meeting on 9 September the IACM changed the statutes concerning the patient representatives, changed the membership fees and elected Willy (William) Notcutt from James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth, UK, as the new chairman. The following Board Members were re-elected: Manuel Guzman (Spain), Arno Hazekamp (The Netherlands), Roger Pertwee (UK), Ethan Russo (USA), Willy Notcutt (UK), Franjo Grotenhermen (Germany), Daniela Parolaro (Italy), Mark Ware (Canada), Kirsten Müller-Vahl (Germany), and Rudolf Brenneisen (Switzerland). New patient representatives are Michael Krawitz (USA), Alison Myrden (Canada), and Sarah Martin (UK).

The General Meeting unanimously adopted changes concerning the Patient Representatives in the statutes of the IACM (§ 9.1). The old version reads: "Associate members of the association vote for two Patient Representatives" which was changed as follows: "Up to three Patient Representatives will be voted for at the General Meeting for a period of two years."

In addition the General meeting unanimously adopted changes on the membership fees of the IACM. It abolished the minimum membership fee for individuals, which is currently 30 EURos annually for non-working members and 60 EURos for working members. The basic idea behind this change is the intention to concentrate the IACM work on information and exchange between members by internet and to allow everybody to participate in this development. The IACM Board of Directors will shape this decision in the coming weeks and will inform the subscribers to the IACM-Bulletin.

IACM: The Cannabinoid Conference 2011 in Bonn

About 220 scientists, doctors, students and others mainly from EURope participated in the Cannabinoid Conference 2011 in Bonn on 8-10 September. It was a joint meeting of the IACM 6th Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine and the 5th EURopean Workshop on Cannabinoid Research. About 40 oral presentations were given by invited speakers and speakers selected from submitted abstracts. About 70 posters on research results were presented.

The sponsors of the meeting contributed to a large extent to its success. There was high sponsoring from the scientific institutions "Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft" (German Research Foundation) and the International Society for Neurochemistry. In addition, there was sponsoring from companies. Gold sponsors were Bedrocan and Almirall Hermal. Silver Sponsors were Biocanna, Bionorica Ethics, Echo Pharmaceuticals and Fundacion Canna. Bronze Sponsors were THC Pharm, Meda Pharmaceuticals and Phytoplant Research.

Abstracts on the talks and posters are available in the abstract book:

IACM: IACM Awards and awards for outstanding poster and oral presentations

The IACM honoured four persons for special achievements regarding the re-introduction of cannabis and cannabinoids as medicine. The IACM award committee, consisting of previous awardees, made the following decisions: The IACM Award 2011 for Clinical Research goes to Willy Notcutt, the IACM Ester Fride Award 2011 goes to Andrea Hohmann, the IACM Award 2011 for Young Researchers goes to Anatol Kreitzer, and the IACM Special Award 2011 goes to Franjo Grotenhermen. The IACM Awards are associated with a price money of 500 EURos.

In addition, two awards were granted on outstanding short oral presentations during the meeting and four awards for poster presentations, selected by the Short Oral Presentation and Poster Award Committee of the conference. The four poster awardees are Onder Albayram (price money: 850 EURos), Andrea Dlugos (650 EURos), Simon Nicolussi (500 EURos), and Barbara Trattner (500 EURos). The two short oral presentation awardees are Thomas Randau (850 EURos) and Attila Olah (650 EURos).

IACM: In memory of Clare Hodges

On 23 August 2011 Clare Hodges, the long-standing patient representative of the IACM died at the age of 54. Her real name was Elizabeth Brice, but she was known to the public by her pseudonym Clare Hodges, Clare being her middle name and Hodges her mother's maiden name. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 26 but it was nearly 10 years before she tried cannabis to alleviate the symptoms. Clare found that cannabis greatly alleviated her condition.

She founded the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT) in 1992 with two other patients. The ACT worked to provide advice and assistance to other MS suffers and individuals with other medical conditions which might benefit from the use of cannabis. Clare worked with Dr William Notcutt to ensure GW Pharmaceuticals took up the issue to make cannabis available to patients. Clare was born in Manchester. She studied Latin and Greek at Sommerville College Oxford and then went on to pursue a career in Medical Journalism, first writing for a newspaper for doctors before becoming a producer at Yorkshire Television working on a number of medical documentaries.

News in brief

Colombia: Drug possession
On 24 August the Colombian Supreme Court ruled that a prison sentence for drug possession for personal use violated "personal freedoms." The ruling came in the case of a teenager sentenced to five years in prison after being caught with 80 grams of cannabis. Colombia has some of the most repressive drug laws in the region. (Source: Drug War Chronicle of 6 September 2011)

Science: Cancer of the colon
According to research at Umeċ University, Sweden, the number of CB1 receptors is related to disease severity and survival in patients with cancer of the colon. High CB1 receptor density on cancer cells was associated with a poorer prognosis in certain types of colon cancer. (Source: Gustafsson SB, et al. PLoS One 2011;6(8):e23003.)

Science: Psychosis and cognitive functioning
Researchers of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, conducted an epidemiological study with 956 patients with non-affective psychosis, 953 unaffected siblings, and 554 control subjects. Participants completed a cognitive test battery. Current cannabis use was associated with poorer performance on immediate verbal learning, processing speed and working memory. Lifetime cannabis use was associated with better performance on acquired knowledge, facial affect recognition and face identity recognition. Researchers concluded that "cannabis-using individuals might constitute a subgroup with a higher cognitive potential. The residual effects of cannabis may impair short-term memory and processing speed." (Source: Meijer JH, et al. Psychol Med 2011 Sep 7:1-12. [in press])

Science: Glaucoma
Scientists at the University of Glasgow, UK, investigated the mechanism by which cannabinoids decrease intraocular pressure (IOP). They concluded that "beta-adrenergic receptors are required for the ocular hypotensive properties of cannabinoids, and that cannabinoids reduce IOP by acting as indirect sympatholytics and inhibiting norepinephrine (NE) release within the eye." (Source: Hudson BD, et al. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011 Sep 1. [in press])

Science: Pregnancy
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, USA, are conducting a long-term study on the effects of cannabis use during pregnancy. School achievement at age of 14 was lower in adolescents who were exposed to cannabis during pregnancy. (Source: Goldschmidt L, et al. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2011 Aug 22. [in press])

Science: Atherosclerosis
According to animal research at the University of Bonn, Germany, the activation of CB2 receptors reduces generation of free radicals in cells of blood vessels and CB2 deficiency in cells from the bone marrow increased infiltration of leukocytes into the vessel wall. Scientists concluded that "selective CB2 receptor stimulation modulates atherogenesis via impact on both circulating proinflammatory and vascular cells." (Source: Hoyer FF, et al. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2011 Aug 18. [in press])

Science: Motility of the intestine
According to animal research of an international working group inhibition of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is responsible for the degradation of the endocannabinoid anandamide normalizes motility of the intestine in gastrointestinal disorders with increased motility. Scientists concluded that "inhibition of FAAH represents a new approach to the treatment of disordered intestinal motility." (Source: Bashashati M, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug 30. [in press])

Science: Osteoporosis
Researchers from Switzerland and Austria investigated the mechanism by which CB2 receptor agonists inhibit the activity of osteoclasts, which are responsible for bone resorption. The formation of osteoclasts was influenced by inhibiting the function of certain immune cells (macrophages) and the expression of a certain regulator of immune cells (tumour necrosis factor). (Source: Schuehly W, et al. Chem Biol 2011;18(8):1053-64.)

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