University of Guelph team identifies how cannabis produces pain-relieving molecules Research has show cannflavins A and B are 30 times more effective at reducing inflammation than Aspirin.
While some have been using cannabis to relieve their pain and inflammation, researchers from the University of Guelph have uncovered just how exactly the plant is able to do it.
This discovery, according to a post on the university’s website, could lead to a naturally derived pain treatment that could offer pain relief without the risk of addiction like other painkillers.
“There’s clearly a need to develop alternatives for relief of acute and chronic pain that go beyond opioids,” states Tariq Akhtar, a professor in the university’s department of molecular and cellular biology.
“These molecules are non-psychoactive and they target the inflammation at the source, making them ideal painkillers.”
Akhtar, along with fellow DMCB Prof. Steven Rothstein was able to determine how cannabis produces molecules called cannflavin A and cannflavin B.
First identified in 1985, research has shown these two molecules are 30 times more effective gram-for-gram than acetylsalicylic acid — better known as Aspirin — when it comes to reducing inflammation.
While this had been known for more than three decades, further research was stalled due to regulations placed on cannabis research ahead of the drug’s legalization last year.
“Our objective was to better understand how these molecules are made, which is a relatively straightforward exercise these days,” states Akhtar.
“There are many sequenced genomes that are publicly available, including the genome of cannabis sativa, which can be mined for information. If you know what you’re looking for, one can bring genes to life, so to speak, and piece together how molecules like cannflavins A and B are assembled.”
With that knowledge now in hand, the team has partnered with Toronto-based Anahit International to biosynthesize cannflavin A and B outside of the cannabis plant.
“The problem with these molecules is they are present in cannabis at such low levels, it’s not feasible to try to engineer the cannabis plant to create more of these substances,” states Rothstein.
“We are now working to develop a biological system to create these molecules, which would give us the opportunity to engineer large quantities.”