How does THC work in the body? Researchers share new scientific insights

How does THC work in the body? Researchers share new scientific insights
Cannabis Health News

A new study provides fresh insights into how THC interacts with the human body to provide therapeutic effects.  In various European countries and North America, cannabis-based medicines are authorised for therapeutic purposes.  While the cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, THC (D9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the two best known and characterised constituents. THC and CBD are administered under different pharmaceutical forms, showing therapeutic effects such as pain and inflammation relief. Based on clinical trials, cannabinoid-containing medications have been shown to help alleviate symptoms of disorders such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, and cancer. However, little is known about how THC and other cannabinoids work in the human body at the molecular level. Now a team of researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Grenoble have investigated the interaction between THC and some proteins it might bind to. In a recent study, they showed in vitro that THC inhibits an important human enzyme called autotaxin.  This enzyme is involved in many different cellular functions, specifically producing a molecule called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), which stimulates cell proliferation. A dysregulation of LPA production can lead to development of cancer, inflammation, or pulmonary fibrosis.  As a result, autotaxin is a major target for drug development. New molecular insights on THC Understanding how THC and other cannabinoids interact in our cells at the atomic level would help to administer THC more efficiently in therapeutic contexts. The field of structural biology is particularly relevant to obtain this kind of information. Structural biologists focus on explaining at the atomic scale, the three-dimensional structure of molecules, like proteins or enzymes, and how they interact with each other.  These structural results further lead to understanding molecules’ particular function and how to modulate their activities with specific compounds – which are crucial insights to develop effective drugs. The…

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