DiversityNursing Blog

Cannabis: A New Frontier In Therapeutics

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 16, 2015 @ 11:12 AM

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While debate about recreational marijuana use continues, researchers are investigating the effectiveness of cannabis for treating pain, spasticity, and a host of other medical problems. In a symposium organized by the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) as part of the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting held this week in San Jose, California,  experts from North America and the U.K. share their perspectives on the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and explore the emerging science behind it.

"We need to advance our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease through research and education for patients, physicians and policy-makers," says Dr. Mark Ware, director of clinical research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the MUHC, in Canada.

As a pain specialist Dr. Ware regularly sees patients with severe chronic pain at his clinic in Montreal, and for some of them, marijuana appears to be a credible option. "I don't think that every physician should prescribe medical cannabis, or that every patient can benefit but it's time to enhance our scientific knowledge base and have informed discussions with patients."

Increasing numbers of jurisdictions worldwide are allowing access to herbal cannabis, and a range of policy initiatives are emerging to regulate its production, distribution, and authorization. It is widely believed that there is little evidence to support the consideration of cannabis as a therapeutic agent. However, several medicines based on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, have been approved as pharmaceutical drugs.

Leading British cannabis researcher Professor Roger Pertwee, who co-discovered the presence of tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) in cannabis in the 70's, recently published with collaborators some findings of potential therapeutic relevance in the British Journal of Pharmacology. "We observed that THCV, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, produces anti-schizophrenic effects in a preclinical model of schizophrenia," says Pertwee, professor of Neuropharmacology at Aberdeen University. "This finding has revealed a new potential therapeutic use for this compound."

Neuropsychiatrist and Director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California, San Diego Dr. Igor Grant is interested in the short and long-term neuropsychiatric effects of marijuana use. The CMCR has overseen some of the most extensive research on the therapeutic effects of medical marijuana in the U.S. "Despite a commonly held view that cannabis use results in brain damage, meta analyses of extensive neurocognitive studies fail to demonstrate meaningful cognitive declines among recreational users," says Dr. Grant. "Bain imaging has produced variable results, with the best designed studies showing null findings."

Dr. Grant adds that while it is plausible to hypothesize that cannabis exposure in children and adolescents could impair brain development or predispose to mental illness, data from properly designed prospective studies is lacking.

Source: www.sciencedaily.com

Topics: patients, medicine, treatment, research, science, medical, policy, marijuana, medical marijuana, clinic, cannabis, theraputics, herbal, plants, chronic pain

FDA plan: Gay men who abstain from sex may be allowed to give blood

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 09:38 AM

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Gay men who've abstained from sex for one year would be able to donate blood in 2015, ending a lifetime ban for the gay community, under a proposed FDA policy change unveiled Tuesday.

The current lifetime ban by U.S. Food and Drug Administration states dates back to 1983 and forbids men who have had sex with men from becoming blood donors because the group is "at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion," the FDA has ruled.

But the FDA is now seeking a change in that policy and would allow such blood donations based on an independent expert advisory panel's recommendation, the agency said.

The proposed change would align the one-year deferral period "with that of other men and women at increased risk for HIV infection," the FDA said.

The agency will be gathering public comments on the proposed change.

"We encourage all stakeholders to take this opportunity to provide any information the agency should consider, and look forward to receiving and reviewing these comments," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement.

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the FDA would monitor a national blood surveillance system to see any effects of the proposed policy change and to ensure the continued safety of the blood supply, Hamburg said.

"A history of male-to-male sex is associated with an increased risk for exposure to and transmission of certain infectious diseases, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS," the FDA said. Men who have had sex with other men represent approximately 2% of the U.S. population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV, according to the FDA.

In 2010, male-to-male sex accounted for at least 61% of all new HIV infections in the United States, and "an estimated 77% of diagnosed HIV infections among males were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact," the FDA said.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: nurse, nursing, FDA, HIV, gay men, donate blood, transfusion, policy, 2015

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