A study led by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center suggests that native chemicals (endocannabinoids), which are similar to the cannabinoids produced by marijuana plants, have the potential to inhibit the virulence of intestinal bacteria.
The team found that our endocannabinoids can shut down the genes which are required for some intestinal pathogens to colonize and cause disease. This study sheds some light on why marijuana has for long been used to alleviate different gastrointestinal infections.
The researchers sought to establish whether endocannabinoids can lessen one’s susceptibility to the different pathogenic bacteria which cause gastrointestinal infections.
To answer this question, the team genetically altered a group of mice so that the rodents could produce higher levels of an endocannabinoid called 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl-glycerol). The genetically modified mice were then injected with a bacterial pathogen called citrobacter rodentium. This pathogen is responsible for attacking the colon and causing extreme inflammation and diarrhea. Unmodified mice were also injected with this pathogen.
The researchers then observed that the unmodified mice displayed severe gastrointestinal distress characterized by colon inflammation, severe diarrhea and signs of infection. Their fecal matter also had high levels of citrobacter rodentium.
However, the genetically modified mice not only recovered days quicker than their unmodified cohorts, but they also had lower inflammation markers in their colons, and their symptoms of infection were mild.
The researchers then genetically modified the mice which hadn’t initially mutated and when these were injected with the pathogens, they exhibited mild symptoms and recovered quickly from the infection.
Vanessa Sperandio, PhD, the leader of this study, revealed that the endocannabinoid 2-AG also protected the mice from E-coli and salmonella typhimurium.
When the team treated mammalian cells in a petri dish with a compound which blocks 2-AG, those cells had a heightened susceptibility to the gastrointestinal pathogens with which the mice had been injected.
The research authors observe that their findings could explain why cannabis compounds or their synthetic versions have beneficial effects on inflammatory bowel issues. They believe that with such findings, it could soon be possible to use the body’s own compounds or those derived from plants to treat infections in a way that hasn’t been attempted before.
It is noteworthy that this research was supported by five grants from the National Institutes for Health (“NIH”). These findings will undoubtedly open the door of possibilities to lots of biomedical companies. One biomedical company whose work is worthy looking into is Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI). They focus on delivering precision or personalized cancer medicine using the power of artificial intelligence and data.
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