Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cannabis / 19.11.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Wai Liu Senior Research Fellow St George's University of London London,  SW17 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Liu: It has been known for some time that certain chemicals called cannabinoids that are isolated from the cannabis plant possess anticancer action through the ability to enhance/engage apoptosis and autophagy. These effects are both dependent and independent upon the cognate receptors. These are found at relatively high levels in brain cells. Brain tumors tend to express these at high levels and so we felt these would be good candidates. The main findings of the current study is the ability that combining the cannabinoids THC and CBD with irradiation can cause a reduction in tumor that is greater than the sum of the individual treatments. That is, when using doses of irradiation or cannabinoids individually, the effects were minimal; however, if they were used simultaneously, the effect was synergistic, and tumor growth was significantly impeded. (more…)
Cannabis, Heart Disease / 17.11.2014

Matthew L. Springer, Ph.D.  Associate Professor of Medicine Division of Cardiology Cardiovascular Research Institute Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center University of California, San Francisco   MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Matthew L. Springer, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Medicine Division of Cardiology Cardiovascular Research Institute Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center University of California, San Francisco     Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Springer: The general public is aware that cigarette secondhand smoke is harmful. However, many people who actively avoid tobacco secondhand smoke don't feel the need to avoid marijuana secondhand smoke; they don't consider it harmful because there's no nicotine and because we who tell them to avoid tobacco smoke don't tell them to avoid marijuana smoke.  However, secondhand smoke from tobacco and marijuana is very similar in chemical composition (4000-7000 chemicals depending on whom you ask), aside from the nicotine and the THC (the psychoactive drug in marijuana). We and others have shown that brief exposure to tobacco secondhand smoke, such as 30 minutes, at real-world levels impairs vascular function in humans.  We developed a way to study vascular function (measured as arterial flow-mediated dilation; FMD) in living rats, and recently published that even one minute of sidestream smoke from the burning tips of tobacco cigarettes, a well-accepted model for secondhand smoke, is enough to start detecting impairment of FMD.  The main findings of the current study are that in laboratory rats, FMD was substantially impaired by a 30 minute exposure to marijuana secondhand smoke, when measured 10 minutes after the end of exposure.  Impairment was comparable to that resulting from exposure to tobacco sidestream smoke, although whereas impairment from tobacco smoke was temporary and had normalized by 40 minutes later, FMD was still impaired 40 minutes after the end of exposure to marijuana smoke.  Smoke from marijuana lacking THC still impaired FMD, showing that  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Surgical Research / 03.10.2014

David Plurad, MD Los Angeles Biomedical Research In MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Plurad, MD Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute. Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Based on a survey of patients with traumatic brain injuries, a group of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute researchers found those who tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, were more likely to survive than those who tested negative for the illicit substance. We surveyed 446 patients who were admitted to a major urban hospital with traumatic brain injuries between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012, who were also tested for the presence of THC in their urine. We found 82 of the patients had THC in their system. Of those, 2.4% died. Of the remaining patients who didn't have THC in their system, 11.5% died. While most - but not all - the deaths in the study can be attributed to the traumatic brain injury itself, it appears that both groups were similarly injured. The similarities in the injuries between the two groups led to the conclusion that testing positive for THC in the system is associated with a decreased mortality in adult patients who have sustained traumatic brain injuries. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Lancet / 10.09.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Edmund Silins PhD, Research Fellow National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre UNSW Medicine University of New South Wales Sydney  Australia Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Silins: There were three particularly interesting aspects to the findings.
  • Firstly, we found clear and consistent associations between adolescent cannabis use and the young adult outcomes investigated.
  • Secondly, there was evidence of a dose-response effect such that the more frequently adolescents used cannabis the more likely they were to experience harms later in life.
  • Thirdly, for most outcomes, these associations remained even after taking into account a wide range of other factors which might potentially explain them.
The adverse effects were greatest for daily cannabis users. Specifically, adolescents who were daily cannabis users were, by the age of 25, more than 60% less likely to complete high school or obtain a university degree, seven times more likely to have attempted suicide, 18 times more likely to have been cannabis dependent, and eight times more likely to have used other illicit drugs, than adolescents who had never used the drug. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Disability Research, Karolinski Institute / 03.09.2014

Anna-Karin Danielsson, PhD Project Coordinator Karolinska Institutet Department of Public Health Sciences (PHS) Widerströmska huset| Stockholm, SwedenMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anna-Karin Danielsson, PhD Project Coordinator Karolinska Institutet Department of Public Health Sciences (PHS) Widerströmska huset| Stockholm, Sweden Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Danielsson: Smoking cannabis in adolescence increases the risk of adverse social consequences later on in life. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cannabis / 03.09.2014

Chuanhai Cao Ph.D. Neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Chuanhai Cao Ph.D. Neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy. Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Cao: The major goal of this study was to investigate the effect of Ä9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a major component of marijuana, on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology. THC has long been known to have anti-inflammatory effects, but we were looking to determine whether THC directly affected amyloid beta (Aâ). Aâ aggregation is considered one of the key pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Our study showed that extremely low doses of THC were able to decrease Aâ production, inhibit Aâ aggregation, and enhance mitochondrial function in a cellular model of AD. Decreased levels of amyloid beta, coupled with THC’s inhibitory effect on aggregation may protect against the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. (more…)
Cannabis, Neurology, Stroke / 09.05.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tara Dutta M.D. Vascular Neurology Fellow University of Maryland Medical Center MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Dutta: We analyzed data from the Stroke Prevention in Young Adults Study in order to evaluate for an association between self-reported marijuana use and ischemic stroke.   1,101 cases and 1,154 age, gender, and race-matched controls, aged 15-49 years old, were recruited from the greater Baltimore-Washington area between 1992 and 2008. Interviews were conducted to assess for various potential stroke risk factors, including illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. Individuals reporting use of vasoactive illicit drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines, were excluded, yielding 751 cases and 813 controls. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the association between marijuana use and ischemic stroke, adjusting for age, gender, race, current tobacco use, current alcohol use, hypertension, and diabetes. We did not find a positive association between marijuana use and ischemic stroke risk in our population of young-onset stroke patients compared to matched controls, even after controlling for current tobacco and alcohol use, hypertension, and diabetes.   A statistically significant inverse relationship was observed between remote use (defined as any use over one year ago) and stroke risk (adjusted OR 0.77, CI 0.61-0.98, p = 0.03). We also looked to see whether recent use (in the past 30 days), and particularly recent heavy use, was associated with ischemic stroke risk as has been suggested in the medical literature. Though our data did not show this association, the number of patients reporting recent use in our study was very small­­­­­­­. (more…)
Cannabis, Mental Health Research / 08.05.2014

Meesha Ahuja, MD Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University Young Adult Behavioral Health Program at Rhode Island Hospital Mentors: Laura Whiteley, MD and Larry Brown, MDMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Meesha Ahuja, MD Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University Young Adult Behavioral Health Program at Rhode Island Hospital Mentors: Laura Whiteley, MD and Larry Brown, MD MedicalResearch: Why did you decided to study this topic? Dr. Ahuja: Severe mental illness is more common among college students than it was a decade ago, and the number of college students presenting for psychiatric care both on and off campus has dramatically increased. The rates of cannabis use have also been increasing among college students in the United States since the mid-1990s. The concomitant use of cannabis and other substances among general samples in psychiatric treatment has been linked to poorer clinical outcomes including increased hospitalizations, increased symptomatology, poorer treatment adherence, higher treatment resistance. However, before doing this study, there was no research that examined the effect of cannabis and other substance use disorders on the scholastic and general functioning of college students in psychiatric care. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Heart Disease / 23.04.2014

Emilie Jouanjus, PharmD, PhD Risques, maladies chroniques et handicaps Facult_e de M_edecine, Guesde, Toulouse 31073, France.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Emilie Jouanjus, PharmD, PhD Risques, maladies chroniques et handicaps Facult_e de M_edecine, Guesde, Toulouse 31073, France. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Jouanjus: Our study emphasizes that cardiovascular complications make up 1.8 percent of cannabis-related health complications reported in France. These were cases of peripheral arteriopathies, and cardiac and cerebrovascular disorders, some of which resulted in the death. These findings conducted us to conclude that marijuana is a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease in young adults. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, McGill, Rheumatology / 04.03.2014

Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MB, ChB, MRCP(UK), FRCP(C) McGill University Health Centre Division of Rheumatology and Alan Edwards Pain Management UnitMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MB, ChB, MRCP(UK), FRCP(C) McGill University Health Centre Division of Rheumatology and Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit MedicalResearch.com: What are the highlights of your review? Dr. Fitzcharles: Thank you for your interest in the review article which will shortly be published in Arthritis Care & Research. This was not a research study but rather a review focused towards the use of herbal cannabis for patients with rheumatic diseases. The essence of our message after a thorough review of the literature is that there is not a single study published regarding efficacy or side effects of herbal cannabis in the rheumatic diseases. It is notable that almost 2 thirds of persons using herbal cannabis for therapeutic reasons report use for musculoskeletal complaints. In the 21st century, we cannot rely upon heresay or anecdote to justify use of a treatment intervention. It is unacceptable to recommend use of a substance without knowledge of concentration of molecules in the product, any knowledge of blood concentrations that might have a positive or negative effect, and formal study in defined patient populations with acceptable endpoint criteria and evidence for short and long term risks. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Cannabis / 03.02.2014

Joanne E. Brady SM Senior Staff Associate Department of Anesthesiology Doctoral Candidate in Epidemiology Columbia University Medical Center New York, NY 10032MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joanne E. Brady SM Senior Staff Associate Department of Anesthesiology Doctoral Candidate in Epidemiology Columbia University Medical Center New York, NY 10032 Department of Epidemiology, Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: The prevalence of non-alcohol drugs detected in fatally injured drivers in the U.S. increased from 17% in 1999 to 28% in 2010.  The increases are largely driven by the tripling in the prevalence of cannabis. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Cannabis / 21.01.2014

David J. Allsop, PhD National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine Now with the School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, AustraliaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: David J. Allsop, PhD National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine Now with the School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Allsop: We found that administering a botanical preparation of the cannabinoids Tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC - the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) and Cannabidiol (a lesser known component of the cannabis plant that counteracts the psychotogenic effects of THC with anxiolytic properties) to dependent cannabis smokers during initial abstinence from cannabis substantially dampened their withdrawal experience. In essence this is akin to Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) but for cannabis users. It might seem obvious - sure you give cannabis users a cannabis preparation and they find it easier to quit - but this is important because it has never been done before - and we currently have no consensus evidence based medicines to offer cannabis users who ask for help. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Schizophrenia / 16.12.2013

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Matthew J. Smith PhD Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 710 N. Lake Shore Drive, 13th Floor, Abbott Hall, Chicago, IL 60611 MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Smith: We observed that the shapes of brain structures involved in a working memory brain circuit seemed to collapse inward in a similar fashion among both of the groups that had a history of daily cannabis use. These cannabis-related changes in shape were directly related to the participants’ poor performance on working memory tasks. Some of the shape abnormalities were more severe in the group with schizophrenia and the history of daily cannabis use. We also found that participants with an earlier age of daily cannabis use had more abnormal brain shapes. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Stroke / 22.11.2013

W. Scott Burgin, MD Professor and Chief Cerebrovascular Division Director, Comprehensive Stroke Center Department of Neurology USF College of Medicine Tampa General Hospital Stroke CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with: W. Scott Burgin, MD Professor and Chief, Cerebrovascular Division Director, Comprehensive Stroke Center Department of Neurology USF College of Medicine Tampa General Hospital Stroke Center. MedicalResearch.com What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Burgin: Two cases of stroke, of embolic appearance, shortly after smoking synthetic marijuana. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Lancet, Multiple Sclerosis, Neurological Disorders / 24.07.2013

Professor John Zajicek Professor of Clinical Neuroscience, Centre for Clinical Trials & Health Research - Translational & Stratified Medicine (Peninsula Schools of Medicine and DentistrMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor John Zajicek Professor of Clinical Neuroscience, Centre for Clinical Trials & Health Research - Translational & Stratified Medicine (Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry) MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Prof. Zajicek: Our study investigated whether dronabinol (one of the major active ingredients of cannabis) may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis. We currently have no treatments that are effective in modifying the disease course in people with either primary or secondary MS. We did a clinical trial across the UK involving nearly 500 patients, who were randomly allocated to dronabinol or placebo, and followed them up for three years to look at progression on rates. Overall we failed to find an effect of dronabinol on disease progression,  either clinically (using a variety of clinical measures) or using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There was a suggestion of an effect in people with the least disability (who didn't need a stick to help them walk), and there were no major problems with serious side effects.  However, over all the population that took part in the study also progressed less than we expected, which reduced our chances of finding an effect of treatment. The  study was not designed to investigate an effect on MS-related symptoms (such as pain and muscle stiffness), which have been investigated before. (more…)