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IACM-Bulletin of 14 May 2017

Chile: Pharmacies begin to sell cannabis

Pharmacies in Chile's capital Santiago will start selling cannabis-based medicines this week, the first time such treatments have been offered by drug stores in Latin America, the involved companies said on 10 May.

Canadian cannabis producer and distributor Tilray said it had partnered with local company Alef Biotechnology, which is licensed by the Chilean government. Chile legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2015 and is among a number of Latin American countries gradually loosening laws prohibiting the cultivation, distribution and consumption of cannabis.

Reuters of 10 May 2017

Science/Human: Depression is higher in pain patients receiving opioids compared to those receiving cannabis

In a study with 880 chronic pain patients treated at several centres in Israel those, who received prescription opioids had higher rates of depression and anxiety than those treated with cannabis. Of all participants 474 received opioids, 329 cannabis and 77 both opioids and cannabis. Depression and anxiety were assessed using the depression module of the Patient Health Questionnaire and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale.

Prevalence of depression among patients in the opioid group was 57.1%, in the cannabis group 22.3% and in those receiving both medications 51.4%. Rates of anxiety were 48.4%, 21.5% and 38.7%, respectively. Authors concluded: “levels of depression and anxiety are higher among chronic pain patients receiving prescription opioids compared to those receiving MM [medical marijuana]. Findings should be taken into consideration when deciding on the most appropriate treatment modality for chronic pain, particularly among those at risk for depression and anxiety.”

Feingold D, Brill S, Goor-Aryeh I, Delayahu Y, Lev-Ran S. Depression and anxiety among chronic pain patients receiving prescription opioids and medical marijuana. J Affect Disord. 2017;218:1-7.

Science/Animal: Low doses of THC restore cognitive function in old mice

In a study with mice aged 12 and 18 months low doses of THC reversed the age-related decline in cognitive performance. These results were reported by scientists of the University of Bonn, Germany, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Usually mice show cognitive deficits at the age of 12 months. Mice received THC for four weeks.

THC treatment restored the patterns of gene transcription in the hippocampus, a certain brain region, such that the expression profiles of THC-treated mice aged 12 months closely resembled those of THC-free animals aged 2 months. Transcription is the first step of gene expression, in which a particular segment of DNA is copied into RNA by the enzyme RNA polymerase. These effects depended on CB1 receptors. Authors concluded that “restoration of CB1 signalling in old individuals could be an effective strategy to treat age-related cognitive impairments.” The scientists want to perform a clinical study to see if these effects can also be achieved in humans.

Bilkei-Gorzo A, Albayram O, Draffehn A, Michel K, Piyanova A, Oppenheimer H, Dvir-Ginzberg M, Rácz I, Ulas T, Imbeault S, Bab I, Schultze JL, Zimmer A. A chronic low dose of Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice. Nat Med. 2017 May 8. [in press]

News in brief

IACM: New publications in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research
New articles have been published in the CCR, the partner journal of the IACM: A Conversion of Oral Cannabidiol to Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Seems Not to Occur in Humans and The Clinical Significance of Endocannabinoids in Endometriosis Pain Management

USA: The state parliament of Vermont approves recreational use of cannabis
Vermont lawmakers on 10 May approved a measure to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. If not vetoed by the governor it would make the state the ninth to legalize the drug and the first to do so by legislation rather than a referendum by of voters.
Reuters of 10 May 2017

Israel: Second International Medical Cannabis Conference by Cann10
Cann10 is organizing its second International Medical Cannabis Conference, to be held on 4-6 June 2017 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Cann10 conference website

Science/Human: Cannabis effective in Tourette syndrome in case series
The authors retrospectively evaluated effectiveness and tolerability of cannabis in 19 adults with Tourette syndrome. Tics scores decreased by 60%, and 18 of the 19 participants were at least much improved.
The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Canada.
Abi-Jaoude E, et al. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2017 May 3. [in press]

Science/Human: Cannabis use may increase injury risk among older adults
In a study with 14,715 people aged 50 years or older past-year injury rates were 18.9% for nonusers and 28.8% for users of cannabis.
University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, USA.
Choi NG, et al. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2017:1-9.

Science/Animal: Endocannabinoids may ameliorate radiation-induced lung injury
Inhibition of the degradation of endocannabinoids by a FAAH-inhibitor (URB937) improved the consequences to the lungs of mice after irradiation to the thoracic region. The endocannabinoids did not compromise the efficacy of irradiation on cancer control.
Sichuan University, Chengdu, China.
Li R, et al. Inflammation. 2017 May 6.[in press]

Science/Cells: Activation of the CB2 receptor may be beneficial in bone cancer
Research with cancer cells of the bones (osteosarcoma) shows that both CB2 receptor stimulation and vanilloid receptor 2 activation “can act on the same pathways to obtain the same effect, indicating the endocannabinoid/endovanilloid system as a new therapeutic target in osteosarcoma.”
Second University of Naples, Italy.
Punzo F, et al. Oncotarget. 2017 Apr 13. [in press]

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