The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

University of Malta scientists speak of ‘safe way to block seizures with endocannabinoids’

Thursday, 28 September 2017, 08:32 Last update: about 3 years ago

A group of scientists from the University of Malta has discovered that boosting our own natural Marijuana (endocannabinoids) would probably be safer than using cannabis in blocking epilepsy, the University of Malta said.

The article entitled “The FAAH inhibitor URB597 suppresses hippocampal maximal dentate afterdischarges and restores seizure-induced impairment of short and long-term synaptic plasticity” has been recently published (link https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-11606-1) in the prestigious Journal SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, which forms part of the NATURE publishing group.

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This study brings together the areas of neuroscience and medicinal chemistry and is the subject of a close collaboration co-ordinated by Prof Giuseppe Di Giovanni and involving Dr Roberto Colangeli andDr Massimo Pierucci from the laboratory of Neurophysiology at the Department of Physiology and Biochemistry of the University of Malta, and other scientists from the Universities of Siena and Palermo, Italy.

They studied the electrophysiological effects of a synthetic cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 and URB-597, an inhibitor of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzyme that degrades endocannabinoids, in a model of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.The group from Malta, discovered that boosting endocannabinoids,rather than synthetic cannabinoids, reduces seizures without disrupting the hippocampal long term potentiation (LTP); the electrophysiological phenomena underlying learning.

The authors are now working towards the synthesis of a new antiepileptic drug based on these results,and investigating the role of endocannabinoids in other types of epilepsy such as Childhood Absence Epilepsy (CAE).

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