How THC Affects Autoimmune Diseases
Under the leadership of Prakash Nagarkatti and Mitzi Nagarkatti, researchers at the USC (University of South Carolina) School of Medicine have been studying the effect of the active ingredient in marijuana on autoimmune diseases for more than a decade. Their research on the impact of this principal ingredient or THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) on diseases at the molecular level is unveiling its possible medical benefits, leading USC researchers to new possibilities.
In the latest study, researcher Venkatesh Hegde’s team deals with THC’s impact on microRNA, a recently discovered class of molecules. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) regulates genetic activity and expression and microRNA are small RNA molecules that are responsible for gene regulation. Altering these molecules, which affects their activity levels, is helpful in arthritis, MS (multiple sclerosis), and diabetes treatment.
The team injected lab mice with THC and analyzed its impact on 609 different microRNAs. They found 13 microRNAs that were highly altered by the THC and these results were published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The next step of the USC study focused on determining which microRNAs to turn up and which ones to turn down to impact certain genes and, in turn, certain diseases. Researchers found a strong link between one microRNA and the suppression of inflammation. They believe that this research has laid the groundwork for the development of potential treatments for inflammatory diseases and cancer. (Via StT.org)