An international team of leading researchers have paved the way to exploring the biomedical potential of phytocannabinoids, going beyond the THC structural motif and their occurrence in cannabis.
SPAIN: In the first ever attempt to include phytocannabinoids from additional natural sources apart from those derived from C. sativa, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the University of Córdoba, the Universita` di Napoli Federico II, the Universita` del Piemonte Orientale and Phytoplant Research S.L. have created the first comprehensive, critical, integrated and unified inventory of phytocannabinoids of different botanical origin.
The article focuses on the remarkable chemical and structural diversity of phytocannabinoids. As a result of a modular biogenetic scheme, phytocannabinoids are elusive in terms of chemical definition, and chemists found themselves in the situation of the US judge that, when asked to define pornography, answered: “I do not know how to define it, but I can recognize it” as commented one of the authors of the article. To solve this issue, the authors propose a definition of “cannabinoid” inspired by the way these compounds are formed in Nature.
Cannabinoids are very important for the study of brain function. “Using a musical metaphor, if neurotransmitters are notes, endocannabinoids are their overtones, what make the sound of a violin different from that of a flute or a car’s horn,” said Professor Giovanni Appendino at the Universita` del Piemonte Orientale, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Novara.
The study explores the relationships between phytocannabinoids from different sources like higher plants, liverworts, bacteria and fungi. It outlines the basic chemical and biological profile of the various structural types of phytocannabinoids, their biogenetic relationships, chemical interconversions and biomimetic synthesis from terpene derivatives and resorcinols. The paper also highlights the opportunities that the psychotropic constituents of marijuana (Δ9-THC, its isomer Δ8-THC and CBN) offer to access desirable drug-like space beyond those associated with cannabinoid receptors and narcotic targets CB1 and CB2.
Regarding the medical potential of cannabinoids, Professor Hanuš commented: “Man cannot beat nature and patients cannot be prohibited from taking medicines that help them.”