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Blood Pressure Lowered With Cannabis Component

Israel21c.org, 15th June 2006

A new method for lowering blood pressure with a compound that synthesizes a cannabis (hashish or marijuana) plant component has been developed by a Hebrew University doctoral student in pharmacology.

For his work on the cardiovascular activity of cannabinoids (chemical compounds derived from cannabis), Yehoshua Maor has been named one of the winners of this year's Kaye Innovation Awards, to be presented on Tuesday during the university's 69th annual board of governors meetings.

The Kaye Innovation Awards, established by British pharmaceutical industrialist Isaac Kaye, have been given annually since 1994 to encourage HU faculty, staff and students to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential to benefit the university and society.

Not all patients respond well to conventional hypertension drugs. But the cannabis plant, through its chemical compounds, has been shown to have a beneficial, hypotensive effect. But a drawback in the therapeutic use of cannabinoids has been the undesirable psychotropic properties such as hallucinatory effects. Attempts to separate the hypotensive action from their psychotropic properties have been only partially successful until now.

Working under the supervision of Prof. Raphael Mechoulam at the HU School of Pharmacy, Maor - a native of Brazil who immigrated to Israel in 1998 - has created a synthetic version of a minor cannabis constituent named cannabigerol, which is devoid of psychotropic activity. In laboratory experiments with rats, in collaboration with Prof. Michal Horowitz, it was found that this novel compound reduced blood pressure when administered in relatively low doses. Additional testing also showed that the compound also brought about another beneficial effect - relaxation of the blood vessels. A further beneficial property observed in work carried out with Prof. Ruth Gallily was that the compounds produced an anti-inflammatory response.

Maor says these qualities could be combined to create a valuable new clinical drug with major market potential, especially for diabetic patients suffering from hypertension, since reductions in blood pressure can decrease the risk of diabetes complications and in others with metabolic irregularities.

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