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THC In Marijuana Could Delay Rejection In Organ Transplants

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There has been news about a couple of months ago about medical marijuana users being denied of organ transplant because of their cannabis use. Now, a new research shows that medical marijuana treatments may actually aid in the body delaying rejection to organ transplants.

Latest experiment conducted by scientists at the University of South Carolina used mice to test the effects of THC on the rejection of mice to incompatible organ transplants. The researchers found positive results.

"More and more research is identifying potential beneficial effects of substances contained in marijuana, but a major challenge has been identifying the molecular pathways involved," said John Wherry, PhD, who is Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology which published the findings of the study. He added that latest research signifies the importance of cannabinoid receptors as "targets that might be exploited," with methods that change people's views about substances linked with marijuana.

THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. For their study, the researchers performed allogenic skin grafts of selected mice and then divided them into two groups. One group was given THC treatment, while the other received a placebo. They observed the mice and found that at the end of the experiment the mice that received THC rejected the skin graft after a longer while than those that received a placebo.

"We are excited to demonstrate for the first time that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in the prolongation of rejection of a foreign graft by suppressing immune response in the recipient," explained Mitzi Nagarkatti, PhD, one from the School of Medicine at the University of South Carolina. Nagarkatti highlighted how their study could lead to new areas of research that in turn may result in better approaches in preventing the rejection of organ transplants and treatment of other inflammatory diseases.

The researchers do point out that their research was specifically tested on mice, and that more studies should be conducted to clinically test the efficacy of THC is prolonging organ rejections in humans, their experiment strongly suggests that THC might be useful for antirejection therapy, especially in cases where the organs transplanted are not a perfect match.

Photo: Pablo Evans | Flickr

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