Understanding cannabis

Cannabis has a long history of use as medicine, with historical evidence dating back more than 4000 years.  The potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoid compounds are huge, but this substance can also have negative effects. A recent paper by Andrés Ozaita and colleagues at the Neurophar laboratory of Rafael Maldonado (CEXS-UPF) has given new insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie cannabinoid-mediated effects. Using mice as a model system, the authors had previously shown that blocking the mTOR pathway prevented the amnesic-like effects of THC (a synthetic form of cannabinoid). In the present study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, they have gone further, … Continue reading Understanding cannabis

Neuropharmacology Research Unit (CEXS-UPF)

Drug abuse and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are generating a serious social problem. This is why Rafael Maldonado’s neuropharmacology group at the CEXS-UPF studies the common biological mechanisms involved in these two phenomena. They focus particularly in nicotine, cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy, and in the possible mechanisms underlying the abusive consume of these substances. Maldonado explains there are three factors to understand why some people become addictive and others don’t: drug consume (the quantity, the frequency, the mode); social and environmental factors; and individual vulnerability, which includes genetic factors. A classical example of the effect of the environment … Continue reading Neuropharmacology Research Unit (CEXS-UPF)

Effects of cannabis on the hippocampus

Effects of cannabis at the hippocampus In this image provided by Emma Puighermanal (Neuropharmacology lab, UPF) and obtained by Xavier Sanjuan, from the microscopy service of the UPF, shows a cut of the hippocampus of a mouse. It has been labelled against the kinase p-p70S6K (red), the dendritic marker MAP2 (blue) and the cannabinoide receptor CB1 (green). After administering Δ9-tetrahidrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of marijuana, the signalling pathway for mTOR/ p70S6K is activated in the hippocampus. This pathway is responsible for the amnesic effects of cannabis. Continue reading Effects of cannabis on the hippocampus