Scientists from England and Spain have collaborated to discover a potential breakthrough in the therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis by separating THC’s medicinal benefits from its unwanted side effects.

The team, comprised of scientists from the University of East Anglia and the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona last year uncovered the ground breaking news that THC may help reduce growth in tumours and may have just uncovered another key finding for the future of cannabis as a genuine alternative treatment.

Using mice models, the research study revealed that reducing levels of certain serotonin receptors in the brain blocked any cognitive impairment from THC but did not change the cannabinoids’ more therapeutic effects such as pain relief.

Dr Peter McCormick from the University of East Anglia School of Pharmacy explains;

“THC, the major active component of marijuana, has broad medical use – including for pain relief, nausea and anxiety. Our previous research has also found that it could reduce tumour size in cancer patients. However it is also known to induce numerous undesirable side effects such as memory impairment, anxiety and dependence.

“There has been a great deal of medical interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms at work in THC, so that the beneficial effects can be harnessed without the side-effects.

“THC acts through a family of cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors. Our previous research revealed which of these receptors are responsible for the anti-tumour effects of THC. This new research demonstrates how some of the drug’s beneficial effects can be separated from its unwanted side effects.”