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A study conducted by Dr. Jessica Sido and team and published in The Journal of Leukocyte Biology outlined how the use of compounds present in cannabis may have a therapeutic role in ensuring the ‘taking’ of transplanted organs.
In a time when we are seeing cannabis centred at the forefront of medical discussions due to its ability to seemingly cure just about any ailment, we are starting to observe more and more evidence about the cannabinoid system and its importance to our general health.
The study which was conducted at the University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine looked at how Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the intoxicating substituent found in marijuana, plays a role in interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system to elongate the time it takes for the rejection of incompatible organs during transplant operations.
The study looked at two groups of mice who were genetically different, taking a skin graft from one of the groups and transferring it to the other. Out of the group who had received the graft, some were given a placebo and others were given THC and then they were observed.
The results were initially surprising for the team, with research study co-author Mitzi Nagarkatti stating:
“We are excited to demonstrate for the first time that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in the prolongation of rejection of a foreign graft by suppressing immune response in the recipient. This opens up a new area of research that would lead to better approaches to prevent transplant rejection as well as to treat other inflammatory diseases.”
Coincidently, this study was released a year after the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, which prohibited the discrimination of medical cannabis patients who were awaiting a transplant. Prior to the passing of which saw patients removed from the transplant list if they tested positive for marijuana.
The above study, which was conducted in 2015, has seemingly been a piece of pioneering research in the field of medical cannabis, organ transplants, and our immune system. It has since been cited a further 12 times in research involving multiple sclerosis, gut regulation and conditions affecting the brain and spinal cord.
Although the study was conducted on mice, and although it might be further down the line before we see these tests conducted within a human testing environment, it is studies like this one that deepen our understanding into the role that our endocannabinoid system plays on our health and the job that medical cannabis can do.
Research into medical marijuana focuses mainly on two cannabinoids, THC and CBD. The researchers of this study commented to state that research should not just centre around these two, but be conducted into each and every cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. This will enable us to fully understand the molecular pathways involved and help the development of future medicines.