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IACM-Bulletin of 14 June 2015

Science/Human: CBD improved therapeutic results after transplantation of blood stem cells

In an open study with 48 adult patients undergoing blood stem cell transplantation (or: allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation) CBD improved the therapeutic outcome. “The combination of CBD with standard GVHD [Graft versus Host Disease] prophylaxis is a safe and promising strategy to reduce the incidence of acute GVHD,” researchers of Tel Aviv University, Israel, wrote in the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. CBD in a daily dose of 300 mg was given orally starting 7 days before transplantation until day 30.

Thirty-eight patients (79%) had acute leukaemia or myelodysplastic syndromes. The median follow-up was 16 months. CBD was generally well-tolerated. None of the patients developed acute Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD) while consuming CBD. Researchers found that the incidence rates of grade 2-4 acute GVHD 100 days after the transplantation was 12.1%. Compared to 101 control subjects given standard GVHD prophylaxis, the risk of developing grade 2-4 acute GVHD among subjects treated with CBD plus standard GVHD prophylaxis was reduced to 30%. Authors wrote that “a randomized double blind controlled study is warranted.”

Yeshurun M, Shpilberg O, Herscovici C, Shargian L, Dreyer J, Peck A, Israeli M, Levy-Assaraf M, Gruenewald T, Mechoulam R, Raanani P, Ram R. Cannabidiol for the Prevention of Graft-Versus-Host-Disease after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Results of a Phase II Study. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2015 May 29. [in press]

Canada: Medical cannabis legal in all forms, Supreme Court rules

Medical cannabis patients will now be able to ingest cannabis — and not just smoke it — as well as use other extracts and derivatives, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on 11 June. The unanimous ruling against the federal government expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond the "dried" form. The country's highest court found the current restriction to dried cannabis violates the right to liberty and security "in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice."

Restricting medical access to cannabis to a dried form has now been declared "null and void". The federal government isn't pleased. „Frankly, I'm outraged by the Supreme Court," said Health Minister Rona Ambrose. „Let’s remember, there's only one authority in Canada that has the authority and the expertise to make a drug into a medicine and that's Health Canada," she said during a press conference. „Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which of course, requires a rigorous safety review and clinical trials with scientific evidence."

CBC News of 11 June 2015

News in brief

France: Conference on cannabis as medicine
The fourth international medical cannabis conference will be held at the Faculty of Medicine of Strasbourg, France, on October 16, 2015. The conference brings together industry experts with researchers, health professionals, and patients, to discuss the development of medical cannabis in EURope and North America.

Science/Human: Cannabis use may prevent from parasites of the bowel
Researchers investigated the correlation between cannabis use and infection with helminths, which are parasites in the bowel, in the Aka, a population of foragers of the Congo Basin. 67.7% of men used cannabis and “THCA levels were negatively correlated with parasite infection and reinfection, supporting the self-medication hypothesis,” authors wrote.
Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Vancouver, USA.
Roulette CJ, et al. Am J Hum Biol. 2015 May 29. [in press]

Science/Human: Successful treatment of achalasia with cannabis
Researchers reported the case of a patient diagnosed with treatment-resistant achalasia. He first used cannabis at age 20 and identified benefits regarding achalasia symptoms. He maintained regular moderate cannabis use for 9 years, with minimal digestive inconvenience. Achalasia of the oesophagus is a failure of the muscles to relax, which can cause severe difficulties to swallow.
Hôpital Paul Brousse-Addictologie, Villejuif, France.
Luquiens A, et al. World J Gastroenterol 2015;21(20):6381-3.

Science/Human: Survey shows that many MS patients use cannabis for medicinal purposes
According to a survey of the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) among their 12,260 active participants of the 5665 respondents 16% were current cannabis users. Those with higher current disability and those reporting active relapsing or progressive disease were more likely to report current cannabis usage.
Biostatistics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA.
Stacey S, et al. abstract of the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, 27-30 May 2015, Indianapolis, USA.

Science/Animal: CBD reduces toxicity of cocaine
In studies with mice cannabidiol (CBD) in a dose of 30 mg/kg body weight reduced acute liver inflammation and damage induced by cocaine and prevented associated seizures.
Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Vilela LR, et al. Mediators Inflamm 2015;2015:523418.

Science/Animal: THC may reduce transplant rejection
In studies with mice THC was shown to reduce Host versus Graft Disease (HvGD), or rejection of the transplanted organ or tissue by the immune system and this effect was mediated by activation of the CB1 receptor. Authors concluded that “targeting cannabinoid receptors may provide a novel treatment modality to attenuate HvGD and prevent allograft rejection.”
Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, USA.
Sido JM, et al. J Leukoc Biol. 2015 Jun 1. [in press]

Europe: EU drug agency sees no U.S.-like cannabis legalization moves
European Union countries are unlikely to legalize cannabis any time soon as some parts of the United States have done recently, EU drug monitoring agency chief Wolfgang Gotz said. Gotz told a briefing arranged to present the EURopean Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction's report: "In EURope I do not know any government, or parliamentary majority backing a government, that is currently seriously discussing cannabis legalization or regulation in a different way.”
Reuters of 4 June 2015

Science: 10 pharmaceutical drugs based on cannabis
ProCon lists a sample of pharmaceutical drugs, which influence the endocannabinoid system, on its website, including Sativex, dronabinol, nabilone, cannabinor and rimonabant, most of which are not or no longer approved for medical use.
List of cannabinoid drugs

UK/USA: GW Pharmaceuticals initiates second phase 3 study of CBD in Lenox-Gastaut Syndrome
The British company GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it has commenced the second of two Phase 3 clinical trials of Epidiolex (cannabidiol or CBD) for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), a rare and severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy.
Press release by GW Pharmaceuticals of 11 June 2015

Science/Animal: Rhythmic changes of endocannabinoid concentrations in the pineal gland
The endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) showed rhythmic changes in rat pineal glands with higher levels during the light-period and reduced amounts at the onset of darkness. The pineal gland is of high importance for the day night rhythm.
Institut für Anatomie II, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Koch M, et al. Chronobiol Int. 2015 Jun 10:1-6. [in press]

Science/Animal: Activation of the CB2 receptor reduces brain damage after stroke
In a study with mice a synthetic selective agonist at the cannabinoid-2-receptor (O-1966) reduced infarct volumes, memory impairment and learning deficits.
Center for Substance Abuse Research, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA.
Ronca RD, et al. Life Sci. 2015 May 30. [in press]

Science/Animal: The combination of THC, CBD and CBDA acted synergistically in reducing vomiting
In a study with musk shrews (Suncus murinus) a combination of THC, CBD and CBD acid (CBDA) suppressed vomiting more effectively than each substance alone.
Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Canada.
Rock EM, et al. Behav Neurosci 2015;129(3):368-70.

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