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William R. Marrs of the University of Washington Neurobiology and Behavior Program studies cell signals that are analogs of marijuana-derived chemicals.  (Source: University of Washington)

A visualization shows high levels of the endocannabinoid receptor ABHD6 in nerve cells. The receptor breaks down endocannaboids, reducing their efficacy.  (Source: University of Washington via Nature Neuroscience)
Inhibition of receptor could lead to more effective pain control and other therapeutic effects

Even as marijuana is on the verge of legalization for recreational and medical uses on a state-level across the U.S., its advocates are struggling with the substance's health effects.  After all, on a base level, smoking marijuana is inhaling a smoky mixture of organochemicals, many of which are carcinogenic (such as certain phenolic compounds, i.e. benzo[a]pyrene).  While water pipes or oral consumption are sometimes used, they reportedly give weaker effects.

Thus it is interesting that researchers at the Neurobiology and Behavior program at the University of Washington (UW) have discovered the latest in a long string of chemicals your body produces that resemble those found in marijuana -- chemicals that could eventually be turned into a smokeless replacement that offers the full efficacy of marijuana's most useful effects.

The class of compounds is known as "endocannabinoids" -- an amalgamation of "endo", Latin for inside, and cannabis, the scientific name for the genus of the marijuana plant.  The latest endocannabinoid they discovered is named 2-AG and binds to receptors on nerve cells and microglia.  Microglia are a specialist cell that cleans up debris like dead cells and plaque.

Together the signal is thought to trigger brain cell relocation and the reduction of inflammation.  This could explain why similar compounds released from smoking marijuana (likely binding to the same receptors) can offer relief to the symptoms of brain-related diseases such as multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, Huntington's disease and other autoimmune or neurological disorders.

In their most recent work they discovered that 2-AG binds to a enzyme called ABHD6.  They say that the enzyme, whose purpose was previously a mystery, "is a bona fide member of the endocannabinoid signaling system."  

Further, they discovered that the enzyme uses water to break down 2-AG, degrading the signal and reducing its effectiveness.

With this discovery researchers can now devise ways to inhibit the enzyme, increasing the potency of cannabis chemicals or their synthetic analogs.  They could also try to devise new compounds resistant to hydrolysis (water-driven splitting).  Either way the net impact would be that the beneficial effects of the pharmochemicals would be accentuated.

The new study is published in the journal 
Nature Neuroscience.  The lead author is William R. Marrs, while the senior author is Dr. Nephi Stella, UW professor of pharmacology and psychiatry.  The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, both part of the National Institutes of Health.  In total 19 other researchers contributed from the study, including some at the Scripps Research Institute and Indiana University.





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Grrr
By Cobra Commander on 8/9/2010 11:06:09 AM , Rating: 5
"...many of which are carcinogenic ( such as phenolic compounds )."

One of the most ignorant freaking statements I have ever read on Daily Tech. Phenolic compounds are not carcinogenic in such an absolute, unqualified statement. Anti-oxidants and Flavinoids (which include Isoflavones which inherently are ANTI-cancerous) are part of phenolic compounds. We consume phenolic compounds in fruits, vegetables, teas, flax seed and wine do we not?

Furthermore, link us to some documentation of marijuana users that developed cancer from their marijuana use.




RE: Grrr
By Goty on 8/9/2010 11:22:50 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
We consume phenolic compounds in fruits, vegetables, teas, flax seed and wine do we not?


*enters modern-day hypochondriac mode*

And what do all people with cancer have in common? They've eaten fruits and vegetables and drank tea and/or wine! The connection is so clear! These products must be regulated for the safety of everyone!


RE: Grrr
By Reclaimer77 on 8/9/2010 1:16:59 PM , Rating: 5
Everyone who has EVER drank water, has died. It's a fact.

:)


RE: Grrr
By kfonda on 8/9/2010 1:31:42 PM , Rating: 2
I've drank water and I'm not quite dead yet. How long do I have left?


RE: Grrr
By Goty on 8/9/2010 2:12:00 PM , Rating: 1
That depends; how long have you been drinking it?


RE: Grrr
By kfonda on 8/9/2010 2:17:51 PM , Rating: 3
about 15 minutes


RE: Grrr
By wvh on 8/9/2010 7:41:40 PM , Rating: 5
It's a gateway drug. Soon you'll start experimenting with adding tea or coffee. Then sugar. Then... cream!

Is there no end to this madness?! Somebody... please think of the children.


RE: Grrr
By SunTzu on 8/10/2010 2:19:05 AM , Rating: 5
He's right. Everyone who has ever died from Heroin once started with the most dangerous gateway drug of them all: Water. We can hereby see a clear connection that absolutely proves that Water is the gateway drug to heroin. If we ban water, the heroin problem disappears.


RE: Grrr
By kfonda on 8/10/2010 2:50:32 AM , Rating: 2
Upon further research, I think it might be the oxygen in the water that is causing the problems. If we get rid of all the oxygen then everything should be okay.

Also, we should get rid of all the gravity too. Gravity is responsible for a huge number of deaths every year.


RE: Grrr
By fic2 on 8/9/2010 5:41:27 PM , Rating: 2
I think it is fact that everyone that has died has drank water, but not quite the other way around.

Life is a terminal disease!


RE: Grrr
By undrgrndgirl on 8/14/2010 9:37:51 PM , Rating: 2
...i'll go you one better...

life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease


RE: Grrr
By Goty on 8/9/2010 11:23:08 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
We consume phenolic compounds in fruits, vegetables, teas, flax seed and wine do we not?


*enters modern-day hypochondriac mode*

And what do all people with cancer have in common? They've eaten fruits and vegetables and drank tea and/or wine! The connection is so clear! These products must be regulated for the safety of everyone!


RE: Grrr
By omnicronx on 8/9/2010 12:04:02 PM , Rating: 3
The article never states these carcinogens cause cancer, in fact it seems to be pro marijuana, its just stating the obvious that for medical use, if they can figure out an alternative way to trigger the same effects as the real thing, that it would be more ideal than having to smoke it.

This all being said, I think its pretty hard to make the claim that smoking marijuana has no negative impact on your body. Heck the fact that THC is fat soluble makes it unpredictable from person to person in the first place.

Has it been proven cancerous, nope, and probably never will, but lets not make claims as though it does not impact your body in any way whatsoever. Lung capacity for one is a pretty obvious one..


RE: Grrr
By Riven98 on 8/9/2010 12:59:04 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
...if they can figure out an alternative way to trigger the same effects as the real thing, that it would be more ideal than having to smoke it.

They have! Marinol (dronabinol) is a synthetic version of the same d-9-THC as in marijuana and is available by perscription in the US. The main excuse given for not wanting to use it is that it is "much more convienent to self-dose than take a predetermined dose" in the form of a pill.

BTW, the average joint has 3 times the tar in it as the average cigarette.

This information in this post was learned while reseaching for an anti-marijuana debate I was forced to give in college.

I await your downrating for being against marijuana legalization.


RE: Grrr
By omnicronx on 8/9/2010 1:24:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
BTW, the average joint has 3 times the tar in it as the average cigarette
Including around 3x the cancer causing agents, yet there is still no link to cancer.

quote:
The main excuse given for not wanting to use it is that it is "much more convienent to self-dose than take a predetermined dose" in the form of a pill
Thats hardly the reason, simply put it comes in pill form. Inhaling allows for the THC to get into your bloodstream pretty much instantly, Marinol has a terribly slow absorbrtion rate, even if it does last on average twice as long than smoking it. Patients also can't control the dosage and its also more expensive, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Do not confuse Marinol with what is being discussed in the article, they are specifically targetting receptors thought to be affected by THC, they are not merely looking for synthetic version of THC.


RE: Grrr
By geddarkstorm on 8/9/2010 2:32:20 PM , Rating: 3
Well, actually, some studies show smoking marijuana increases the risk for lung cancer ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18238947 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19057263 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20171900 ), increases risk for testicular cancer ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19204904 ), and that marijuana smoke damages lung cell DNA ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19449825 ). That's not surprising, smoke is smoke and is always harmful. Think how long it took for people to realize tobacco caused cancer -- and tobacco use is, especially before we knew that, FAR more prevalent than marijuana use.

On the other hand, cannabinoids by themselves may be anti-cancer agents at least for breast cancer ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20649976 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19442435 ).

Also, indeed, phenolics are not necessarily cancerous agents; some are highly anti-cancerous. Phenolic compounds (anything containing a six member ring with a bound oxygen) are everywhere; including one of the essential amino acids, and the DNA bases!


RE: Grrr
By omnicronx on 8/9/2010 3:16:36 PM , Rating: 3
Did you even read your linked studies (seems like you were trying to play both sides, but I'm not sure why you would post these studies).. 5% increase? studies performed in Africa? Studies in which they are basically fishing? (i.e your little testicular study in which they identify certain cancers being on the rise the same time as marijuana smoking being on the rise, and of course they must be related)

I'll say this again, there is no study anywhere, from anyone that even comes close to conclusively proving that marijunana significantly increases your risk of cancer. 5% increase is within margin of error and for all intents and purposes, pretty much anything in large enough doses could have the same effect.


RE: Grrr
By geddarkstorm on 8/10/2010 12:39:49 PM , Rating: 3
Erm.. did -you- read the links? For instance, where the heck are you getting that 5% from? That 5% only appears once, and it's referring to the percentage of people in the CONTROL GROUP who had ever smoked marijuana, nothing about cancer rates.

In fact, in the first study, they were seeing that per year of use, cancer rate linked to marijuana went up 8%, while it went up 7% for tobacco smokers. Now, that was New Zeland, and there are other studies that show a lower cancer rate increase for marijuana verses tobacco. But, smoke is smoke and is always damaging, and we've seen mechanistically that marijuana smoke, like all smoke, destroys DNA of living cells. There's only one way that can go.

And yes, let us malign Morocco! Obviously a -French- university using information from an area of high marijuana use and production must be flawed because it was AFRICA. Since, those people aren't really humans.

Also, again, did you really look at the testicular cancer study either? Or just don't know statistical analysis and how it works? They did find a correlation, and I don't think they claim causation, though there are other studies that show a mechanistic causative link at the cellular level ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19942653 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18426506 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3914916 )


RE: Grrr
By CptTripps on 8/9/2010 6:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
BTW, the average joint has 3 times the tar in it as the average cigarette.


Although true one must realize that most cigarette smokers will consume several stogies to the pot smokers one joint.

p.s. Why exactly are you against it being legalized?


RE: Grrr
By Makaveli on 8/10/2010 6:31:51 PM , Rating: 3
The Average Joint may have 3 times the amount of tar, but it has 0 of the 4,000+ chemicals in 1 cig.

An average pot smoker might smoke maybe 3-4 joints a day. Where as the average smoker does a pack a day so you do the math.


RE: Grrr
By undrgrndgirl on 8/14/2010 9:39:40 PM , Rating: 2
yes, they've got to figure out a way to make some $$$$$$$ off it


RE: Grrr
By HrilL on 8/9/2010 12:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
Last I read that if you smoke cigarettes and Marijuana then you have a 70% less chance of getting Cancer. The reason being that Marijuana smoke kills your weak cells instead of them turning cancerous. If they die you body produces new cells.

http://scienceblog.com/cms/study-finds-no-link-bet...

People that try to make this link are complete misinformed and need to do more research on the subject.


RE: Grrr
By omnicronx on 8/9/2010 1:02:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Last I read that if you smoke cigarettes and Marijuana then you have a 70% less chance of getting Cancer.
The article you linked claims no such thing, so where you got that info I have no idea. At the very best, there are theories involved that claim that THC could lead your body to kill cells faster, thus limiting the time these cells would have to 'undergo cancerous transformation'. This was in no way or form linked to smoking, it was linked to the fact that marijuana usually has 3-4 times more cancer causing tar agents than ciggarrettes due to its unfiltered nature. (i.e they were trying to justify why marijuana could not be linked to cancer)

In no way or form is there any conclusive evidence that says that smoking marijuana decreases the chance of getting cancer by any amount if you are a smoker (nor was the study trying to make this claim). Thats completely unfounded and sounds like something you would like to believe to be true, not something that has been proven scientifically in any shape or form.


RE: Grrr
By bigboxes on 8/9/2010 9:33:10 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, you misinterpreted the article. It states that marijuana users are 70% more likely to consume an entire bag of cookies than a cigarette smoker.


RE: Grrr
By DrApop on 8/9/2010 1:09:39 PM , Rating: 3
If you don't understand the statement made in the article you ought not comment.

Many phenolic compounds ARE carcinogenic. They mentioned Benzopyrene...5-methychrysene is another, as is DMBA. I have conducted research on all three. These compounds are metabolized to form dihydrodiol epoxides in the human body that then form adducts with DNA resulting in genetic mutations in basal/stem cell populations in our body.


ha..
By omnicronx on 8/9/2010 10:54:09 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
While water pipes or oral consumption are sometimes used, they reportedly give weaker effects.
Says who? Sure they may filter out around 10% of the THC, but usually when consuming via 'water pipe', 'bong' or whatever you want to call it, you are consuming it all at the same time. To say it gives a weaker effect is completely inaccurate. The effects may not last as long, but it is usually far more intense.

FYI: This post was compiled by third party knowledge, I swear!




RE: ha..
By amanojaku on 8/9/2010 11:06:28 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
This post was compiled by third party knowledge, I swear!
Good, good. Then you won't mind if I take your turn on the bong. Oh, and you don't need those brownies, either...


RE: ha..
By fic2 on 8/9/2010 6:46:25 PM , Rating: 2
I saw an article somewhere that they actually did a study of best consumption method. I think it was:

vapor > smoking > water pipe > brownie

Vapor was by far the best at something like 98% of the THC entering the body. It was probably in Westword but I am not sure.


RE: ha..
By ssjwes1980 on 8/9/2010 8:15:29 PM , Rating: 2
I got a vap when you use it it smells almost like burning popcorn but does smoke pretty smooth was around 2XXish I belive.


RE: ha..
By Makaveli on 8/10/2010 6:36:32 PM , Rating: 2
The order you have here is wrong.

Vaporizer is about 93% THC

Water bong is about 73% THC

a joint is around 25% THC

Can't comment on the brownie as i'm not sure about the numbers on that one.

If you are a social smoker in big groups a joint is better, however for personal use the Vapor and Water bong are alot more effective and your hands don't stink. Not to mention you tend to smoke less with the Vapor and water because you need less to get high!


This article makes one glaring mistake
By adhan24 on 8/10/2010 3:56:37 AM , Rating: 2
This article makes no mention of the use of vaporizers as an apparatus for the inhalation of THC. This is the recommended way to receive a medical dosage and produced far less carcinogens since vaporization is achieved at a lower temperature than ignition.




RE: This article makes one glaring mistake
By adhan24 on 8/10/2010 4:38:47 AM , Rating: 2
produces NOT produced.


By jtemplin on 8/12/2010 7:46:47 PM , Rating: 2
Your point is a valid one. However, an even more glaring mistake is that the author claims a new receptor has been discovered. The authors of the paper make no such claim. An enzyme was discovered (serine hydrolase ABHD6) by this group which modulates the activity of CB-2 receptors.

Cannabinoid receptors are G protein coupled membrane bound and come in two flavors: CB-1 and CB-2. This would be much more interesting news if a new receptor sub-type was identified.

Not to be a hater...this sounds like a really important modulator of the Canabinoid system--its just NOT a new receptor -_-


RE: This article makes one glaring mistake
By jtemplin on 8/12/2010 7:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
Your point is a valid one. However, an even more glaring mistake is that the author claims a new receptor has been discovered. The authors of the paper make no such claim. An enzyme was discovered (serine hydrolase ABHD6) by this group which modulates the activity of CB-2 receptors.

Cannabinoid receptors are G protein coupled membrane bound and come in two flavors: CB-1 and CB-2. This would be much more interesting news if a new receptor sub-type was identified.

Not to be a hater...this sounds like a really important modulator of the Canabinoid system--its just NOT a new receptor -_-


By jtemplin on 8/12/2010 8:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry!

Also--2-AG may bind to this enzyme but that doesn't make the enzyme a receptor per se as receptors are coupled to open or close the ion channels of neurons to control neuronal activity.


By jtemplin on 8/12/2010 8:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry!

Also--2-AG may bind to this enzyme but that doesn't make the enzyme a receptor per se as receptors are coupled to open or close the ion channels of neurons to control neuronal activity.


By jtemplin on 8/12/2010 8:02:53 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry!

Also--2-AG may bind to this enzyme but that doesn't make the enzyme a receptor per se as receptors are coupled to open or close the ion channels of neurons to control neuronal activity.


Huh?
By theunit on 8/9/2010 11:10:34 AM , Rating: 2
All this crap in this article tells me one nothing. Most people wont understand this article as they try to make marijuana look bad by using words that we have to Google before we fully understand it.

This article is full of propaganda that is a waste of my time.

We could solve a lot of issues if we could grow hemp farms.




RE: Huh?
By atlmann10 on 8/9/2010 11:29:46 AM , Rating: 2
That is very true theunit, as the main reason Hemp is illegal is from a smear campaign many years ago. This campaign was enacted by very large corporate members of the commercial wood industry.

It was done in whole or in part along with our national government. It was also done much as was the recent cannot fail work done with AIG. At the time of it's happening the Timber industry especially in the US was one of the largest in the world, if not the largest outright at that time.

Hemp was and is cheaper to grow, matures far more rapidly than wood allowing multiple crops in a year, and in most cases directly replaces wood for many things. It was also condemned by both the Tobacco industry (which by the way was the first profitable crop grown in America, followed by wood), and also the Alcohol industry for it's similar, yet cheaper effects.

These three industries are what this country was built on period point blank. For them all to oppose hemp, and or Marijuana,especially in the time window we are talking about here, these objections were of very large concern to those in authority.


RE: Huh?
By fic2 on 8/9/2010 7:27:02 PM , Rating: 2
I had always heard it was the cotton industry along with tagging it as a "Mexican" and "black" drug much as opium was tagged a "Chinese" drug.

According to this:
http://brainz.org/420-milestones-history-marijuana...

It was basically a crusade by control/power happy Harry J. Anslinger which I have also heard. I am pretty sure his personal motto was something to the affect - Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.


RE: Huh?
By Fritzr on 8/9/2010 11:53:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hemp

Hemp paper threatened DuPont's monopoly on the necessary chemicals for manufacturing paper from trees and hemp fiber cloth would compete with Nylon, a synthetic fibre, that was patented in 1938, the year hemp was made illegal.[21][22] It is often asserted in pro-cannabis publications that DuPont actively supported the criminalization of the production of hemp in the US in 1937 through private and government intermediates, and alleged that this was done to eliminate hemp as a source of fiber—one of DuPont's biggest markets at the time. DuPont denies allegations that it influenced hemp regulation.[citation needed]

quote is excerpt from the DuPont Wiki page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DuPont


RE: Huh?
By Fritzr on 8/9/2010 11:57:09 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently William Randolph Hearst may have coined the term marijuana as part of his campaign against Mexicans.
http://www.viperrecords.com/newprohibition/truesto...


Legalization
By kfonda on 8/9/2010 1:40:47 PM , Rating: 3
Just thought I'd throw this out there.

How come the DOJ sued AZ because they don't want states passing "a patchwork of state laws" even though it mirrors the federal law.

Yet, the DOJ ignores states that legalize marijuana, creating "a patchwork of state laws" that clearly violate federal law.




RE: Legalization
By Smilin on 8/9/2010 2:40:24 PM , Rating: 2
Read the constitution.

Done?

Ok now quiz:
What did it say about citizenship?
What did it say about drugs?


Huh?
By LifesABeta on 8/9/2010 11:40:44 AM , Rating: 3
I don't get how some of you are angry at the article because it downplays smoking out of a bong. If you actually read the damn article thoroughly, it's actually promoting marijuana, with this new receptor that is found naturally in the human body. The article expands on the endocannibinoids that they can further help people by blocking out pain if they can further be extracted from marijuana.

All in all, the article supports marijuana and it's medicinal purposes.

Fools.




Legalize It Already !!!!
By gorehound on 8/9/2010 4:45:31 PM , Rating: 2
Here in Maine we have passed Medical Marijuana which I voted for but it is hard to get on that.I actually have HEP-C,Seizures,Insomnia, and weight issues.All of these are reasons to have med weed according to Maine but still I cannot get a med weed card.WHY ? Because of my various doctors none who will give you the card you need.
I have been smokin weed since 1968 and I say enough is enough.We have legal booze and cigarettes so don't you think it is time to leave us weed smokers alone.It is our choice to smoke.We know it is not the greatest thing to do health-wise but at least it is not as bad on the body as what happens to a drinker.i have had a bunch of friends all dead from drinking but not from weed.




If you're worried about cancer.
By Director on 8/9/2010 4:49:16 PM , Rating: 2
Then simply vaporise it or bake it into some brownies. Once big pharma gets it's claws into this their inferior product will be much more expensive than the real thing and as seen with marinol and sativex simply wont be anywhere near as effective.

Also, the results of a long term study on cannabis and cancer can be found here.

http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/05/24/18122....

Regardless of wether you 'approve' of cannabis or not, the MAIN question is should the people who DO approve of it go to jail for it? Why is OK for one person to have a glass of alcohol (which is MUCH more harmful)yet if the person next to him smokes a joint he will be persecuted and probably jailed? (Gotta keep the private prison industry rolling in money and slaves I guess?)




When will pot be legal?
By YashBudini on 8/9/10, Rating: 0
RE: When will pot be legal?
By Director on 8/10/2010 1:23:30 AM , Rating: 2
If it's so 'bad' why has the U.S. gubmunt had it patented for it's therapeutic value?

Oh wait, you already answered that. ;)


Yep
By Proxicon on 8/12/2010 3:00:34 AM , Rating: 2
Mark my words.

Legalizing pot is the the short term answer to all of the states budget problems.

It will be legalized all over and big pharmy (pfizer, merk, etc.) will come in and take over and make big profits so they can contribute more dollars to your politicians campaign fund.

You don't think so? 10 years ago a black president was still a far fetched dream. Time is moving fast now.

Mark my words....




By SilentSunilver23 on 8/13/2010 7:59:53 AM , Rating: 2
The opinion of marijuana cigarette having 3 times more tar is not only false, but unlogical - from wherest the extra tar? The debateable fact of it having more tar was based on a theory, that the MJ smoker holds the puff inside lungs for a longer period of time in order for more THC to enter the system. Hope this opens some eyes to the truth that the goverment uses every little bit of misleading info to keep people away from this beautiful plant and healing plant.




hmm...
By undrgrndgirl on 8/14/2010 9:35:02 PM , Rating: 2
"chemicals that could eventually be turned into a smokeless replacement that offers the full efficacy of marijuana's most useful effects. " (bold added)

um...what if whole plant smoked, vaporize or ingested is actually most efficacious and useful?




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