MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Beth A. McCormick, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice Chair | Department of Microbiology & Physiological Systems
Founding Executive Director | University of Massachusetts Center for Microbiome Research
Board of Editors | Gastroenterology
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Worcester, MA 01655
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: There has been extensive, but to date mostly anecdotal, support for a beneficial role for cannabinoids and cannabis-derived agents to provide benefit for symptoms in individuals suffering from intestinal inflammatory disease (IBD).
Our studies have provided one possible rationale for these previous findings: that there is a constitutively active efflux system at the luminal surface of cells that line the intestine that pumps out one class of lipids of the family known as endocannabinoids. In doing so, the intestine floods this surface with these endocannabinoids in a manner that counteracts the actions of a particular potent stimulators of intestinal inflammation that appears to be over-active in certain forms of IBD. This is most significant because a number of cannabinoids and cannabis-derived agents can mimic the actions of this class of endocannabinoids. Moreover, while cannabinoids and endocannabinoids have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory actions, these studies have identified one mechanism used by the body to localize and focus this protective function at a critical site where pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory events intersect, providing new insights into how to treat that imbalance in these process that occurs in certain forms of IBD.
Therefore, there is the immediate opportunity to use this research to identify new therapeutic strategies to treat individuals suffering from IBD that could include either agents extracted from marijuana plants or novel molecules selected based upon superior properties made obvious by this newly defined mechanism.