Troy Farah, an independent journalist writing this story for Vice, provides a remarkably well-written account on the recently published Scientific Reports article describing the identification of two previously unknown cannabinoids (THCP and CBDP) in cannabis. Citti, along with her ring of weed-studying scientists have detected, isolated, synthesized, and did animal testing on these two new cannabinoids. They have found that these two new cannabinoids, which only contain an extra methyl group on the hydrophobic tail of the more commonly known THC and CBD, bind more tightly to the two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). Specifically, the THCP binds 33-times tighter to the CB1 receptor than THC and 5- to 10-times tighter to the CB2 receptor than THC. The group also tested the THCP in mice and performed several tests to quantify how the cannabinoid affected the mice’s movement, internal body temperature, catalepsy (their ability to move from a rigid two-legged standing position to a more natural four-legged position), and their response to pain. These studies are a very interesting read that essentially show, using graphs and statistically analysis, how “high” these mice really were.
Farah gives an admirable and easy-to-read summary of the article’s findings and implications on the discovery of these two new cannabinoids. He lays out the fact that cannabis flowers naturally contain a large number of cannabinoids, but due to the legal status of marijuana across most countries, many of these are understudied or have yet to be discovered but that some of the known cannabinoids have shown promise for certain medical applications. Both Farah and the authors of the article point to the possibility of different “highs” that people get when using different stains of cannabis being attributed to different levels of THCP and CBDP based on the tight binding affinities they have with the cannabinoid receptors. Farah does point out though that any medical applications are unknown at this time and will need to be assessed via clinal trials. He justifiably stresses this fact multiple times throughout the article as any medicinal chemist will tell you that low binding affinities (tight binders) does not always result in the receptor producing the desired effect.
The one area that Farah lacked in further explanation, and which really should have been talked about more in the news article, is the results from the mice studies. Looking at the graphs for these tests, anyone would deduce that the mice that were exposed to THCP were, for lack of a better term, stoned out of their little mouse minds. Looking at the data and picturing what this mouse would have looked like during the tests, one can imagine a mouse that is standing completely still and lacking any sort of cognitive movement or response. Additionally, what seems even scarier, is that the internal body temperature of mouse exposed to the highest dose dropped by about 7 ºC. Now, while these tests might point towards THCP being more potent, one must not forget about the dose that these mice received. The highest dose mouse received 10 mg/kg of THCP. To put that into perspective regarding THC, that is the equivalent to a 150-pound (68 kg) person receiving 680 mg of THC. When it comes to THC consumption, a user would consume typically between 10-100 mg of THC per session. With this bit of info, it would have been nice to see Farah comment on the results of the mice tests and to point out that some more comparable testing will need to be done first to really find out what kind of effects THCP has compared to THC.
Troy Farah from Vice reports on recent Nature Scientific Report paper, “A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ9 tetrahydrocannabinol: Δ9-tetrahydrocannabiphorol”. This study seeks to understand the roles of other, less known analogues of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis. Researchers determined a new THC analogue, Δ9THCP, as well as related cannabidiol (CBD) homolog CBDP. The authors wish to further understand the pharmacological properties of the newly discovered CBD homolog as well as the psychoactive capabilities of strains and how this relates to THCP content. Farah dissects this dense paper for Vice readers, explaining the discovery of the two compounds and what implications this could have for consumers. He reports that the presence of highly potent THCP may be the cause for different “highs” from strains, alluding to its medicinal importance. He similarly explains the novel CBDP to readers.
In the body of the article, an intruding narrative becomes evident; Farah brings to light the stigma behind marijuana usage. Beyond his easy, layman’s style writing, Farah brings meaning to the research in an easy to understand fashion, which is why, in part, this article deserves a perfect score. While the original authors do discuss a rationale and next steps, Farah makes the rationale appropriate for his readers by interpreting the rationale differently.
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