How cannabis produces molecules to relieve pain is discovered


How cannabis works to produce 30 times more effective molecules than acetylsalicylic acid to reduce inflammation is discovered

For the first time a team of scientists from the University of Guelph in Canada discovers the way cannabis sativa has to generate anti-inflammatory molecules 30 times more effective than aspirin and that will be used to treat pain.

It all started when Dr. Marilyn Barrett and her team managed to isolate the Cannaflavina A and B molecules in the 1980s. Barrett published the discovery in June 1985. The studies found that cannaflavin A and B were 30 times more effective than aspirin. Cannaflavin B was not isolated until 2013. But to date it was not known how the cannabis plant generates these molecules.

Cannflavins A and B are two methylated isoprenoid flavonoids, and are the first aglycone flavonoids isolated from cannabis.

The discovery is of enormous importance since opiates are currently being used to block brain pain receptors. Opioids are very effective but they have many very dangerous side effects for health, among which we must highlight overdose and addiction.

Professor Tariq Akhtar, from the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, who worked on the research together with MCB professor Steven Rothstein, says that current medicine has an urgent need to find alternatives to opiates to treat acute pain. These molecules have no psychoactive properties and act directly on the source of pain.

To discover how the cannabis plant produces these molecules, biochemistry and genetics were used. The two molecules under investigation are known as cannaflavin A and cannaflavin B and are flavonoids that were discovered in 1985. On this date the anti-inflammatory potential of them was discovered that, as we say, is up to 30 times more effective than acetylsalicylic acid.

Unfortunately, although they were discovered in 1985, the study of their potential was forgotten since cannabis was an illegal plant and there were no major investigations. But after the legalization in Canada all research on the therapeutic and genetic properties of the plant is booming. Akhtar and Rothstein decided to analyze cannabis to discover how the biosynthetic plant cannaflavins.

The reason for the investigation was to understand how these molecules were generated in the cannabis plant, which is not very complicated at present because the cannabis genome is sequenced. According to Akhtar, if you know what you are looking for you can give life to genes to know how cannaflavins A and B molecules are generated.

Having the genomic information and using classic biochemical techniques, the researchers got to know what genes of the cannabis plant were needed to generate the cannflavins A and B. The study has been published in the journal Phytochemistry.

The really relevant part of the research is to have the opportunity to obtain natural medicines that contain these important molecules. Thanks to this discovery, new options can be found to treat acute and chronic pain other than opiates.

Because the reality is that people who suffer from chronic pain too often turn to opioids that, as we all know, have side effects and cause addiction. Cannflavins would attack pain differently, without the need to block brain pain receptors but simply by reducing inflammation.

Unfortunately, cannabis produces a very small amount of these molecules and at the moment they do not know how to create a genetics that contains a much higher amount. Therefore, at present the team of researchers is working on the development of a biological system capable of generating these molecules in order to produce large amounts of them.

The research team at the University of Guelph is working with a major Canadian company to get biosynthesize cannaflavin A and B outside the cannabis plant.

This company works with the team of researchers with the intention of obtaining new, more effective and safe anti-inflammatory drugs from the phytochemical compounds of cannabis that are an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The discoverers hope to produce these medications at very low prices in cream, pill, sports drinks, transdermal patches and other options.

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