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O’Shaughnessy’s • Summer 2010 —29—

Sanofi Keeps Hope Alive for Cannabinoid Antagonist Drug
Researchers Share Findings at ICRS Meeting in Chicago—
Input From Users of the “Crude Plant” is Increasing
By O’Shaughnessy’s News Service ing enable researchers to report their lat- toms with mice unable to produce FAAH proach could be used for treating mari-
The International Cannabinoid Re- est findings and to network. Speakers (known as “FAAH knockout mice”). juana addiction. Compounds that inhibit
search Society (ICRS) held its 2009 have 15 minutes to summarize their stud- The offspring had fewer Beta amyloid FABPs could produce an effect similar
meeting last July at a golf-oriented re- ies and answer questions. Giving a talk deposits in the cortex, hippocampus and to nicotine patches for smokers or metha-
sort outside Chicago. Some 250 scien- at a conference is equivalent to publish- thalamus, leading the investigators to done for opiate replacement. This line of
tists employed mainly by academic in- ing a paper in a peer-reviewed journal “postulate that FAAH ablation and sub- research may also be important for other
stitutions and drug companies attended because the content has been evaluated sequent enhancement of the endocan- types of addiction, such as chronic alco-
—a slight fall-off from previous years, and deemed worthy by fel- hol abuse, which also affects AEA lev-
attributable to the recession (universities low scientists (appointed els.”
are limiting their travel allotments) and by the conference organiz- And to think this bureaucrat is the
the advent of other conferences devoted ers). A poster is considered great-daughter of Leon Trotsky!
to the cannabinoids. a slightly less prestigious
Add drug targets: MAGL
There was a corresponding rise in reg- format, but posters often
The enzyme that degrades the body’s
istrants from California’s medical can- describe the progress of
other known cannabinoid, 2-AG, has
nabis movement/industry. UC Berkeley significant studies.
been identified as Monoacylglycerol Li-
sociologist Amanda Reiman gave a pa- Drug Development
pase (MAGL). MAGL offers the drug
per on cannabis as an alternative to al- ICRS scientists, in gen-
developers another target in their quest
cohol, based on a survey taken at the eral, accept the constraints
to achieve the beneficial effects of can-
Berkeley Patients Group (BPG). Kristen of marijuana prohibition
nabis. Jonathan Z. Long of the Scripps
Peskuski presented a poster describing and seek to develop drugs
Research Institute in La Jolla gave a pa-
her regimen of raw cannabis as a treat- that deliver the medical
per on a MAGL inhibitor, JZL184,
ment for multiple medical problems. benefits of the herb with-
which raises 2-AG levels eight-fold and
William Courtney, MD, had a poster pro- out any psychoactive ef-
reduces pain in mice while having no
posing an alternative nomenclature for fect. They employ round-
effect on anandamide levels.
the endocannabinoid system. about strategies.
Courtney was one of six pro-cannabis For example, at the Larry Brooke of General Hydroponics, a California For some the highlight of ICRS 2009
MDs who attended from California. Chicago meeting a team plant-nutrient maker, with Mahmoud ElSohly, America’s was a report by a Belgian-French team
There was a large BPG contingent, and from Abbott Laboratories only legal cannabis grower (under federal law). ElSohly led by Geoffray Labarl on the X-ray
observers from the Farmacy, a Los An- described the develop- supervises a garden at the University of Mississippi. He structure of MAGL. The exact, atom-
has a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
geles dispensary chain, which has since ment of compounds by-atom depiction of the MAGL mol-
expanded to Colorado, and General Hy- (isolthizolyidene amides and thiophene nabinoid tone may delay the develop- ecule will facilitate development of more
droponics, the Sebastopol-based plant bisamide derivatives) that bind only to ment of amyloid pathology in the ani- selective MAGL inhibitors.
nutrient manufacturer. Starr Hergen- the CB2 receptors, which are scant in the mal model of AD.”
Rimonabant: the dream dies hard
rather sold specially designed hemp brain and central nervous system (CNS). Patricia Reggio and colleagues at the Sanofi-Aventis, the world’s fifth larg-
shirts commemorating the conference. These compounds “are anticipated to UNC Greensboro are investigating how
est pharmaceutical company, has spent
minimize CB1-mediated CNS events, anandamide, after binding at a CB1 re-
The ICRS more than a billion Euros trying to mar-
such as sedation, euphoria, and appetite ceptor on a cell membrane, gets trans-
The ICRS was founded in 1991 by a ket a drug that blocks (“antagonizes”) the
stimulation that have plagued the clini- ported to the FAAH enzyme located
group of scientists —mainly pharma- CB1 receptor. Synthesized in the early
cal utility and development of non-se- within the cell’s endoplasmic reticulum
cologists— who had been following 1990s by pharmacologist Gerard Le Fur,
lective cannabinoid agonists for manag- (ER). Anandamide is lipid (fatty), and
each other’s work in journals and hold- the antagonist compound was called SR
ing pain...” slipslides along the membrane onto the
ing rump sessions at various confer- (for “Sanofi Recherche”) 1716A, and
ences. As befit its members’ reliance on receptor. But the cell’s internal environ- sold to labs investigating the function of
funding from the National Institute on The approach at several labs ment is watery —so how does the receptor.
Drug Abuse (NIDA), the first ICRS con- has been to target FAAH, the anandamide proceed to the ER? It was soon determined that blocking
ference was a “satellite meeting” of the enzyme that breaks down The answer, published earlier in 2009 the CB1 receptor suppresses appetite,
College on Problems of Drug Depen- by Martin Kaczocha, Sherrye Glaser and among other things, so Sanofi redefined
dence. anandamide. Dale Deutsch of Stonybrook University, SR1716A as a therapeutic drug and
At annual meetings in the years that is a “transporter molecule” known as a geared up to test it for weight-loss and
followed, the discovery of the body’s en- The approach at several labs has been fatty acid binding protein. Reggio’s team smoking cessation. They would call it
dogenous cannabinoids, anandamide and to target FAAH, the enzyme that breaks has “begun to study, in atomic detail, the “Rimonabant” in some countries and
2-AG, was reported, as were other break- down anandamide (a compound made in binding mechanism of anandamide to “Acomplia” in others.
throughs in the emerging field of can- the body that activates receptors also FABP.” At the ICRS meeting in 2004 Sanofi
nabinoid science. activated by plant cannabinoids such as Kaczocha et al found that inhibition scientists reported that Rimonabant had
The “C” in ICRS originally stood for THC). The less FAAH breaking down of two fatty acid binding proteins proven safe and effective as a weight-
“Cannabis.” But in 1995, because so few anandamide, the more anandamide avail- doubled the time it took for anandamide loss drug in clinical trials involving
members were actually conducting re- able to activate the cannabinoid recep- to break down within the cell. “Inhibit- 13,000 patients. The company launched
search with the plant, a vote was taken tors. (See “Enzymes and the Endocan- ing FABPs could potentially raise the a pre-market campaign notifying doctors
to change the C-word to “Cannabinoid,” nabinoid System” by Martin Lee, levels of AEA in the brain’s synapses,” about a disorder called “Metabolic Syn-
which refers to chemicals from three O’Shaughnessy’s Summer 2009). It is says Dale Deutsch. “Naturally occur- drome,” a cluster of risk factors for dia-
sources —extracted from the plant, syn- hoped that FAAH inhibition will lead to ring AEA levels have been shown to curb betes that Sanofi defined as a disease
thesized in the lab, or produced by the pain relief and other desired effects un- pain without the negative side effects, unto itself —a disease that could be
body. accompanied by “euphoria.” such as motor coordination problems, of treated by blocking the CB1 receptor!
Conferences such as the ICRS meet- At the Chicago meeting, investigators molecules like THC that can also bind In this period Sanofi became the num-
led by Kay Ahn of Pfizer announced the the cannabinoid receptor.” ber-one financial backer of the ICRS, and
discovery and characterization of PF- NIDA reported the finding by the many cannabinoid researchers got grants
3845, a FAAH inhibitor 10-to-20 times Stonybrook team in a press release head- from Sanofi and/or the National Institute
more potent than its predecessors. PF- lined “NIDA research could lead to bet- on Drug Abuse to study the potential of
3845 “displays remarkable in vivo se- ter treatment for pain and marijuana ad- antagonist drugs. John McPartland was
lectivity for FAAH... and raises brain diction.” one of the few ICRS scientists to openly
anandamide levels for up to 24 hours, Here’s the factual part: “Researchers question the safety of Rimonabant. Jef-
resulting in profound cannabinoid recep- had long suspected that endocan- frey Hergenrather and other California
tor-dependent anti-hyperalgesic effects... nabinoids needed a specific transporter doctors warned that blocking CB1 would
PF-3845 has excellent pharmacokinetic that would ferry them to the location almost certainly result in serious adverse
properties, including high oral where they are broken down. This study effects.
bioavailability.” Maybe Pfizer can mar- successfully identified a couple of pre- “The consequences of interfering with
ket it someday as “Faah-out.” As in viously known fatty acid binding pro- the cannabinoid receptor system have not
“Faah out your pain with...” teins (FABPs) as capable of carrying the been evaluated in normal human physi-
A Spanish group led by Lourdes endocannabinoid anandamide (also ology,” Hergenrather was quoted in
Ruiz-Valdepenas (plus the ubiquitous known as AEA) from the cell membrane, O’Shaughnessy’s (Fall 2004). He sug-
Benjamin Cravatt from Scripps Research through the cell interior, to the location gested that before Sanofi marketed
Institute) crossed a strain of mice bred where it is destroyed. Rimonabant, “It would be ethical to de-
K RISTEN P ESKUSKI , who was told she to exhibit Alzheimer’s Disease symp- Here’s the propaganda from Dr. Nora sign longitudinal studies to assess the
couldn’t bear children, with baby Zahila. Volkow, the director of NIDA: “This ap-
continued on next page
—30— O’Shaughnessy’s • Summer 2010

ICRS Meeting from previous page
consequences of interfering with the can- A Substitute for Alcohol into. Some people kind of scowled as
nabinoid system.” Amanda Reiman described the study they walked by, as if we didn’t belong “People seemed very open to
On behalf of the Society of Cannabis she conducted between August and Oc- there. But most people were interested thinking about things in a dif-
Clinicians, Tod Mikuriya, MD, wrote a tober 2008 at the Berkeley Patients and took some of our literature. A few ferent way and a little envious
letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Admin- Group. She surveyed 350 took it almost in a giddy way,
istration advising against approval. To patients ages 18 to 81, about as if it was something that we could enroll so many
the FDA’s credit, a panel of physicians 2/3 male and White. Of the naughty. subjects in our study.”
would unanimously turn down Sanofi’s 180 respondents currently “Samir Ross from the Uni-
application 2007. (Their decision was in- drinking alcohol, 40% re- versity of Mississippi told me been following a line of ‘truth’ that
fluenced by the recently revealed fatal ported using cannabis to that he really liked my pre- maybe isn’t so true. I understand that
effects of Vioxx. ) limit their drinking; 26% sentation and that he was very completely. Because when you rely on
used it as a substitute for interested in what I was do- grants for your livelihood and you study
Scientists at the MD Ander- hard (illicit) drugs; and ing. He took a copy of the something for the government you know
AMANDA REIMAN entire report. He was look-
65.8% used it to reduce pre- that you have to
son Cancer Center reported scription drug intake. “Fewer adverse ing at the Big Book of Buds and asked
phrase things a
that mice treated with Rimona- side effects” was the primary reason for ‘Is this real?’ And Debby [Goldsberry, certain way to get
bant developed potentially can- choosing cannabis as an alternative, fol- director of BPG] said, ‘Oh yes, those are funded. You have
cerous colorectal polyps at a lowed by “better symptom manage- different varieties of cannabis that we to toe the line.
ment.” Some 12% used cannabis be- have in California.’ And I don’t blame
higher rate than controls. cause it has “greater social acceptance” “He asked about the THC percent in anyone for toeing
than alcohol. (Today, Berkeley, tomor- our strains, and Debby said, ‘Our high the line because they have to feed their
In October 2008 the European Medi- row the world!) grade could range from 18 to 25 percent. families and do what they need to do to
cines Agency ordered Sanofi-Aventis to “Three hundred and fifty is a large What’s your high grade?’ And he said, get by. It’s understandable.
stop selling Rimonabant. (Also that sample compared to typical clinical sam- ‘Eleven to 12 percent.’ He was just
“But overall people seemed very
month Merck abruptly canceled five ples,” Reiman observed in a post-con- blown away. He offered to help us on
open to thinking about things in a dif-
clinical trials of a cannabinoid-blocker ference interview. “I think that’s one rea- the chemistry if we ever needed help.
ferent way and a little envious that we
called Taranabant.) Data from ongoing son my data was taken seriously.” “The first day at breakfast a young could enroll so many subjects in our
clinical trials showed that Rimonabant Reiman helped staff the BPG table. woman asked, ‘Why would you use can-
users suffer depression, anxiety, insom- “There was a really wide range of reac- nabis as a substitute when cannabis it- study.”
nia and aggressive impulses at twice the tions to us,” she reported. “We had Ed self is harmful?’ I got that question from Cannabinoids Kill Cancer Cells
rate of subjects given placebo. In one Rosenthal’s Big Book of Buds right there a couple of scientists. And I would ex- Jahan Marcu personifies the merging
study there were five suicides among on the table so there was no question plain the idea of harm reduction. Nobody interests of the medical marijuana move-
Rimonabant users compared to only one about the kind of botanicals we were seemed to be close-minded but they had
continued on next page
among subjects on placebo.
Although Rimonabant was ostensibly
removed from the market because of its
Dr. John W. Huffman
adverse psychiatric effects, one study
conducted by scientists at the MD Ander-
son Cancer Center found that the drug
The Inadvertent Inventor of “Spice”
John W. Huffman, a founding Luftswaffe. They don’t want their pilots
caused mice to develop potentially can- member of the ICRS who runs a lab at getting high on Spice Gold and I can’t “We have nothing about
cerous colorectal polyps at a higher rate Clemson University, is a mild-man- blame them. the nature of the metabolites.
than controls. We do not know of other nered pharmacologist who does not O’Shaughnessy’s: Where did it sur- I am sure some of them are
published data on adverse effects involv- use cannabis medicinally or otherwise. face first?
ing cancer, seizures, and other illnesses (His drug of choice is alcohol.) The carcinogenic.”
JWH: Apparently, it was first in Aus-
that the cannabinoid system plays a role talks Huffman gives at ICRS meetings tria. Then Germany. Then it was declared
lowed to go on or has somebody
in suppressing. are far removed from the clinical illegal in Germany. I also heard from
cracked down?
Given Rimonabant’s withdrawal realm. In Chicago, for example, his pa- somebody in Japan. And of course I have
JWH: I have no idea. I think the
from the market, it was surprising that a per was called “Structure-Activity Re- heard from the DEA —from their sci-
website has been taken down.
block of four talks at ICRS 2009 was lationships at the CB1 and CBS Re- ence people, not the enforcement people.
O’S: Are you entitled to royalties?
devoted to the therapeutic potential of ceptors for 1-Alkyl-3(1-Napthoyl-4 They just wanted to confirm the physi-
JWH: No, because we never pat-
cannabinoid-receptor blockers for treat- And 8-Halogen Substituted) Indoles.” cal properties because some of the stuff
ented it. Alex Makryanis patented it but
ing metabolic syndrome and cirrhosis of But Huffman has become some- that winds up in the smoked product is
his patent is not valid because we re-
the liver. Antagonist drugs of the next thing of a counter-culture hero, thanks pretty impure.
ported the compound at the 1997 ICRS
generation will be designed, it was ex- to his development in 1995 of a syn- O’S: How do people obtain JWH- meeting, and then Jenny published the
plained by George Kunos and others, to thetic cannabinoid that he dubbed 018?
paper in ‘98 and Alex’s patent was filed
not cross the blood-brain barrier. Thus JWH-018. In 2008 some bootleggers JWH: It is sold by a Korean company in 2000. If you want to patent some-
they will exert their effects only on re- concocted a batch which they as a plant growth stimulant.
thing in the U.S., you have one year
ceptors in the body’s “periphery,” and sprinkled on various herbs and mar- O’S: Could it possibly be a plant after you publish it to patent it.
they will not induce suicidal ideation or keted as an intoxicant known as growth stimulant?
O’S: Were any of the emails of spe-
other changes of mood. “Spice.” (“K2” and other knock-offs JWH: I very much doubt it. But that’s cial interest?
Several speakers mentioned that of Spice have since proliferated.) a good excuse. I have seen websites JWH: I had one interesting one that
Rimonabant had been withdrawn due to At the 2009 ICRS meeting where it’s been advertised. When I first
I responded to. It was obviously from
adverse psychiatric effects —as if the Huffman seemed bemused by his heard from this German lady, my wife
somebody with a synonym, using a Ya-
MD Anderson Cancer Center study had unsought celebrity. He recalled, “The Googled JWH018 and there were like
hoo address. Apparently they were
no significance! Drs. Hergenrather and compound was made by an under- 26 hits. That was in December. Last time
bootlegging it at night at a pharmaceu-
McPartland shook their heads just as graduate named Michele Phillips as I googled it was in early May and there
tical company somewhere. The English
they had at the ICRS conference in 2004 part of a program to look at structure- were 26,000. It has certainly become a
was perfect so I assumed it was the UK
when the antagonist dream was unveiled activity relationships in can- legendary, infamous compound.
or Ireland. They had made a variation
by scientists funded by Sanofi and nabimimetic indoles. The structure O’S: What effects do people report? of JWH018. It was actually a varia-
NIDA. was finally published in 1997 or 98 in JWH: I don’t know. They seem to like tion on one of our petyl acetyl indoles.
No sooner does White Man discover a paper by Jenny Wiley from Virginia it. They picked the most po-
the function of the body’s cannabinoid Commonwealth. It was just another O’S: And burning it tent one. And then they
signaling system than he dreams of how somewhat potent research tool... doesn’t destroy the potency? stuck the Winthrop-
to block it! It’s incredible —but true. “In early December 2008 I had an JWH: No. It’s a very Makryannis side chain on
email from a blogger in Germany who simple compound —a two- it, and it’s very potent. Ap-
Huntington’s Disease included a pdf file of a paper from Die step synthesis by somebody parently they’ve done some
Michele Glass and colleagues at the Spiegel. I read enough German that I who knows what they’re do- real pharmacology with it.
University of Auckland School of Medi- was able to gather that people were ing... The advice that I have These guys are good.
cal Sciences have been studying cannab- adding our compound to herbs and it given all of these people — O’S: What’s their goal?
inoid receptors and in a mouse model of had become ‘Spice Gold.’ People were including the two zillion To get another psychoactive
Huntington’s Disease. She noted that the smoking it. emails I’ve gotten about how JOHN W. HUFFMAN compound?
onset of Huntington’s can be delayed “Subsequently I had email from a do I take this stuff— is, ‘You shouldn’t.
dramatically by providing the mouse JWH: I think the goal is to get an-
woman at the University of Cologne You’re stupid if you do because we have
with an interesting (“enriched”) environ- other psychoactive compound that is
in their forensic chemistry department, nothing about the pharmacokinetics, we
ment, which raises anandamide levels. not illegal. Because Spice is now ille-
she wanted a copy of the mass spec, have nothing about toxicity, we have
Activation of CB1 receptors may be gal all over Europe...
which I was able to send her. And ulti- nothing about the nature of the metabo-
protective in HD, but the mechanism is I have universally told people: “Do
mately I was able to send her a sample. lites. I am sure some of them are carci-
not yet understood. not use this stuff. (Whispering) If you
“I have heard from some other nogenic.
want to get high, use marijuana.”
people in Germany, including the O’S: Is the Korean distributor al-
O’Shaughnessy’s • Summer 2010 —31—

ICRS Meeting from previous page
ment and the cannabinoid research es- Marcu measured the efficacy of THC
tablishment. While Marcu was doing and THC acid, CBD and CBD acid, can-
Cannabinoids in combina-
graduate work at California Pacific nabinol and cannabichrome. Then he tion kill cancer cells by a dif-
Medical Center Research Institute in San started testing various combinations — ferent pathway than cannab-
Francisco, his mentors included re- “and that’s when we started seeing sur- inoids acting solo.
searchers Sean McAllister and Mary prising results,” he recounts. “Doses that
Abood —and he was romantically in- literally did not kill a statistically sig- Cannabinoids in combination induce
volved with Alex Franco, an organizer nificant amount of cancer cells were sud- apoptosis earlier in the cancer cell’s life
for Americans for Safe Access. Marcu denly obliterating everything in the petri cycle —which is good news, given the
and Franco are now married and living dish in three days.” goal of preventing metastasis.
in Philadelphia, where he is doing re- The most efficient combination The cells go through three phases: ini-
search in the lab run by Abood (who turned out to be a 4-to-1 ratio of THC to tial growth, synthesis of DNA, division.
moved from CPMC to Temple Univer- CBD. Whether that THC-to-CBD ratio “Cancer cells grow and divide, grow and
sity Medical School.) GBM Proliferation and Survival.” is optimal only in the case of one par- divide, and soak up all the nutrients
Marcu’s poster at the ICRS meeting Marcu explains, “Looking at chro- ticular cell line, or holds true in treating around them,” says Marcu. “You want
—which won the highest award given matograms of plant samples, I noticed other glioblastomas, or other cancers, re- to inhibit them in the growth phases, if
to grad students— was based on research that certain cannabinoid ratios were mains to be studied. possible. And that’s what the combina-
begun with McAllister. It showed that a showing up frequently. THC to CBD in Marcu, McAllister et al also deter- tion of cannabinoids does, we found.”
combination of THC and CBD is much a 10-to-1 ratio was very common. So I mined that cannabinoids in combination Marcu was outside smoking a ciga-
more efficient at killing cells from an ag- thought a 10-to-1 ratio would be more kill cancer cells by a different pathway rette when his first prize was announced
gressive brain cancer, glioblastoma effective than either compound alone. than cannabinoids acting solo. Marcu’s at the ICRS awards banquet. “I have
multiforme, than either cannabinoid on Sean McAllister suggested that we start analogy for the layman: “Instead of since tried to quit,” he says ruefully.
its own. Marcu got the idea to test can- by testing the cannabinoids individually, choking the victim, ‘you hold his arms Marcu applauds the work of Antonio
nabinoids in combination because the and that’s what we did —starting with while I punch him in the stomach.’” Luchini, the grad student whose presen-
plant itself deploys them in combination, the precursor compound CBG— to see Individually or in combination, can- tation took second place. Luchini
and he entitled his poster “Plant Wisdom: how well they killed cancer cells in the nabinoids kill cancer cells by inducing showed that inhibiting FAAH can reduce
CBD Synergizes with THC to Inhibit petri dish.” apoptosis —“programmed cell death.” the cocaine reward response.
And the nicotine reward response?
New Hope in the War on Zits
Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Acne?
Accutane is one of the deadliest drugs duce a lipid synthesis! CBD does exactly vehicle should be the easiest possible,” CBD? He said it had not been studied,
in the aptly named “armamenture” of the opposite of the endocannabinoids. It he said. “Think about the psychology of but was on his to-do list for 2010.
Western medicine. Could a cannabis- does not stimulate but inhibits lipid syn- it. If you’re a teenager you don’t want to At the ICRS meeting in Chicago Biro
based medicine be safer and more effec- thesis, especially if the lipid synthesis put creams on your face, you want a clear met several other researchers interested
tive in treating acne? At the 2009 ICRS was previously upregulated, as for ex- solution. in testing various cannabis-plant com-
meeting, Tamas Biro gave an intriguing ample in acne. It was very surprising,” “There will be no trouble getting vol- pounds. “We think CBG [cannabigerol]
talk entitled “Cannabidiol as a Novel he reiterated, “that a phytocannabinoid unteers for clinical trials. Acne is not a might have an effect [on lipid produc-
Anti-Acne Agent? CBD Inhibits Lipid could prevent the action of the life-threatening disease, but the impair- tion],” he said. “Once you’ve found that
Synthesis and induces Cell Death in endocannabinoids.” ment of quality of life is tremendous. You there’s something in the plant, why not
Human Sebaceous Gland-Derived Biro has been investigating the do not want to socialize. You close the see if there’s other things in the plant that
Sebocytes.” mechanism by which CBD works. His door. It’s your face! And the scars can might be effective?”
Acne involves the overproduction of data show that CBD “does not target the establish an extreme cosmetic problem. CBD, he hastened to add, “is very
sebum, a lipid (oily substance) excreted ‘classical’ CB receptors but rather cer- The current medications are variably ef- efficient —actually, in our model sys-
by the sebaceous glands to create water- tain ion channels expressed on the fective —topical gels combined with tem, it was much more efficient than the
proofing of the skin. Conversely, lipid sebocytes. When activated by CBD, oral antibiotics and even hormone drugs Vitamin A derivatives like Accutane. Of
production is too low in dry-skin condi- these channels open and permit the in- for severe cases.” further importance, CBD was univer-
tions such as seborrhea, eczema and itch- flux of calcium to the cells which, in turn, The average US incidence of acne is sally inhibitive of lipid synthesis. It was
ing (which can lead to inflammation). It inhibit lipid synthesis. We are working 10%. “Very difficult to say the actual able to inhibit not only the actions of
has been learned in recent years that the to elucidate the exact mechanism. cause,” Biro says. “ They call it a ‘mul- endocannabinoids but also the effects of
sebaceous glands and hair follicles “Acne can also be considered as an tifactorial’ disease. Genetic background other inflammatory mediators such as
(which also produce oil) have steroid hormones that stimulate fat pro-
endocannabinoid receptors, as do the duction in these cells.
surface keratinocytes. “Another important result: we found
At his lab at the University of that low concentrations of CBD were
Debrecen (Hungary) Department of very effective in inhibiting lipid synthe-
Physiology, University of Debrecen, sis but did not affect the viability of cells.
Biro works with a line of cells derived This was also in contrast to the effects
from human sebaceous glands. Apply- of Vitamin A derivatives which inhibit
ing endocannabinoids to the cells, he the fat production of sebocytes by kill-
observed, results in the CB2 receptors ing them.”
dramatically “upregulating” lipid pro- We asked Biro what happens to the
duction. Blocking the endocannabinoids normal cells surrounding the zit? He
with an antagonist drug dramatically said, “We found that at the right non-
suppresses lipid production. Biro won- toxic concentration, CBD doesn’t sup-
dered, “If the endocannabinoids are so SKIN IN CROSS-SECTION: The sebaceous glands, which have endocannabinoid press basal lipid synthesis in normal
important for the work of the sebaceous receptors, produce sebum that lubricates the skin and hair. cells. Why bother those guys that are
glands, how would phytocannabinoids inflammatory disease in which the skin plays a role, hormones —that’s why we okay? It would create dry skin. Dry skin
affect that process?” within the zit is highly inflamed. We see acne starting with adolescents as they and itching —that’s also impairment of
Biro started with CBD rather than know from the literature that CBD has enter puberty. There can be local inflam- quality of life. At the right concentration
THC for several reasons, he explained anti-inflammatory properties but it had matory factors —some specific patho- you get only the cells that are pathologi-
in an interview. “CBD is not banned in never been tested on the skin cells. If it gens, the Propionibacteria that can ac- cally increased.”
Hungary —there’s no restrictions on its really works as an anti-inflammatory, cumulate and cause inflammation...” We also asked about baldness. “Cur-
use, you can buy it from Sigma and other then we would be getting two birds with Diet? “A fat-rich diet (chocolate is fat- rently, there is no effective treatment
sources. Because it’s non-psychoactive, one stone. rich) and extremely spicy foods —if the against hair loss,” said Biro. “However,
if we turn up a potential good drug, it “Acne is a human-specific disease. other factors are present. Some say even as we published before, THC and the
will be much easier to market with We don’t have too much fur. Animals smoking can aggravate... Stress is an endocannabinoid anandamide applied to
CBD.” Moreover, CBD had been shown with fur may not need the oily cover for important factor. We say not only the cultured hair follicles were found to in-
by Audra Stinchcomb at the University the surface of their skin because they eyes but the skin is the mirror of our soul hibit hair growth, most probably via the
of Kentucky College of Pharmacy to don’t have uncovered skin. No hair — and our spirit.” Dermatologists study- activation of CB1 in the hair follicle. In
penetrate the skin readily through a only around the paw and the genitalia ing the interaction of brain and skin, Biro good accord with these data, a single
transdermal patch. region, the nose, the very tips... Seba- says, “have found real mediators com- animal study has shown that orally ad-
Biro and colleagues applied CBD to ceous cells from animals may operate ing from the nervous system and acting ministered CB1 antagonists accelerated
cells that had been treated with differently than human ones. So there is on the skin cells.” hair growth in mice. Perhaps someday
anandamide, expecting that CBD would no good animal model for acne.” We asked Biro about the possible a version of Rimonabant can be devel-
further stimulate lipid synthesis. “To our Biro applies CBD in a methanol-etha- anti-acne effects of THC —does THC oped to promote hair growth.”
surprise,” he recounted, “Anandamide in nol solution. He is considering how best stimulate lipid production in the skin,
the presence of CBD was unable to pro- to formulate it for acne patients. “The like anandamide, or decrease it, like