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IACM-Bulletin of 15 October 2017

Science/Human: Daily cannabis use may protect the liver in people with HIV and hepatitis C

In a study with 838 patients, who are both infected with HIV and the hepatitis C virus daily cannabis use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of fatty liver, researchers of INSERM in Marseille, France, reported. Fatty liver is common in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) - Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) co-infected patients.

Among study sample patients 40.1% had steatosis (fatty liver). Fourteen percent reported daily cannabis use, 11.7% regular use, and 74.7% no use or occasional use. Daily cannabis use was associated with a reduced prevalence of steatosis. Authors concluded that “daily cannabis use may be a protective factor against steatosis in HIV-HCV co-infected patients.”

Nordmann S, Vilotitch A, Roux P, Esterle L, Spire B, Marcellin F, Salmon-Ceron D, Dabis F, Chas J, Rey D, Wittkop L, Sogni P, Carrieri P; ANRS CO13 HEPAVIH Study Group. Daily cannabis and reduced risk of steatosis in human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus co-infected patients (ANRS CO13-HEPAVIH). J Viral Hepat. 2017 Oct 6. [in press]

Science/Human: Cannabis may be helpful in patients with spinal cord injuries according to an observational study

In an observational study with 15 patients suffering from spinal cord injury the cannabis extract Sativex reduced spasticity, researchers from the Hospital La Fe in Valencia, Spain, wrote. All patients did not respond to standard medication and were followed for six months.

A significant improvement was observed on three of the scales used to measure spasticity. The use of the drug was withdrawn in two patients due to side effects. Authors concluded, that “Sativex can be considered an alternative in patients with spasticity associated with chronic spinal cord injury for whom other therapeutic measures have been insufficient.”

Grao-Castellote C, Torralba-Collados F, Gonzalez LM, Giner-Pascual M. [Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-cannabidiol in the treatment of spasticity in chronic spinal cord injury: a clinical experience]. [Article in Spanish]. Rev Neurol. 2017;65(7):295-302.

News in brief

Lesotho: The first African country to allow the production of cannabis for medicinal use
Lesotho has become the first African country to grant a license for medicinal cannabis. The country’s health ministry licensed Verve Dynamics, a South African company that describes itself as “a manufacturer of highly purified botanical extracts and specialty ingredients.”
Quartz Africa of 18 September 2017

Science/Animal: CBD reduces the harmful effect of alcohol on the liver
In an animal study CBD prevented the liver from harmful effects of alcohol. It prevented the development of fatty liver and inflammation.
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA.
Wang Y, et al. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):12064.

Science/Cells: CBD inhibits inflammation in the colon
In a study with human tissue of the colon both the plant cannabinoid CBD as well as the endocannabinoid palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) were shown to be anti-inflammatory in irritable bowel syndrome and appendicitis.
University of Nottingham, Royal Derby Hospital, UK.
Couch DG, et al. Clin Sci (Lond). 2017 Sep 27. [in press]

Science/Human: Many cancer patients use cannabis if it is legally available
In a survey of 926 cancer patients 21% reported cannabis use in the last month. Authors wrote, that “legalization significantly increased the likelihood of use in more than half of the respondents.”
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Washington, USA.
Pergam SA, et al. Cancer. 2017 Sep 25. [in press]

Science/Human: Cannabis use has no effect on the mortality of HIV-infected men
In a study with 3099 HIV-infected men the use of cannabis was not associated with mortality risk, while the use of stimulants was associated with a higher risk.
Brown University, School of Public Health, Providence, USA.
Adams JW, et al. AIDS Behav. 2017 Sept 8 [in press]

Science: “Dabbing” may be associated with the production of harmful substances
The inhalation of cannabis extracts (“dabbing”) has become popular. A study investigated, if terpenes in cannabis may be transformed to other products when heated. Authors wrote that “methacrolein, benzene, and several other products of concern to human health were formed under the conditions that simulated real-world dabbing.”
Department of Chemistry, Portland State University, USA.
Meehan-Atrash J, et al. ACS Omega. 2017;2(9):6112-6117.

Science/Animal: The effect of CBD on epilepsy may be mediated by the GPR55 receptor
In a mouse model of Dravet syndrome the plant cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) it was shown, that the effect of CBD on seizures in this syndrome may be mediated by binding GPR55 receptor.
Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington, USA.
Kaplan JS, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Oct 2. [in press]

Science/Animal: The increase of endocannabinoids together with gabapentin reduced pain
Blockade of the degradation of endocannabinoids by blocking the enzyme monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) together with gabapentin reduced pain in mice.
Department of Psychology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA.
Crowe MS, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Sep 29. [in press]

Science: Differences of concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes between cannabis flowers and cannabis extracts
After the preparation of a cannabis extract cannabinoid potency increased by factors of 3.2 for THC and 4.0 for CBD intensity compared to flower. Monoterpenes were lost in the extraction process; monoterpene alcohols increased by a factor of about 5-9 and sesquiterpenes by about 4-9.
Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, Seattle, USA.
Sexton M, et al. Planta Med. 2017 Sep 19. [in press]

Science/Human: Low effects of a cannabis extract in cancer patients in a large controlled study
A cannabis extract did not significantly reduce pain in patients with cancer pain in a placebo controlled study, but had some effects on secondary endpoints, such as sleep quality. 199 patients had received the cannabis extract Sativex and 198 a placebo.
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA.
Lichtman AH, et al. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2017 Sep 15. [in press]

Science/Human: Nabilone reduced cannabis use in cannabis-dependent persons
In a study with 18 adults with cannabis dependence 10 received the synthetic THC derivative nabilone and 8 received a placebo. The use of nabilone reduced cannabis use over the study period of 10 weeks.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, USA.
Hill KP, et al. Am J Addict. 2017 Sep 18. [in press]

Science/Animal: CBD reduced inflammation and nerve damage in arthritis
In a study with rats CBD was able to prevent the development of pain and nerve damage in osteoarthritis (OA). Authors concluded that CBD “may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating OA joint neuropathic pain.”
Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.
Philpott HT, et al. Pain. 2017 Sep 27. [in press]

Science/Animal: CBD reduced the consolidation of fear memories
In a study with rats CBD reduced the consolidation of distressing memories. Both the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor contributed to this effect, because antagonists to these receptors impaired this CBD effect.
Federal University of Parana, Curitiba, Brazil.
Stern CAJ, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2017;125:220-230.

Science/Human: Cannabis improved symptoms of Tourette syndrome
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;29(4):391-400.

Science/Animal: Endocannabinoids may be beneficial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
In a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) the increase of the concentration of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) delayed disease onset, progression and improved survival. This increase was caused by blockade of its degradation.
Department of Experimental Neurology, Ulm University, Germany.
Pasquarelli N, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2017;124:157-169.

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