For the first time, scientists have found how the cannabis plant produces molecules which are extremely effective at tackling pain. The group behind the analysis hope their findings might one day assist us in creating new painkillers that come without the troublesome side effect of potential addiction.
The crew, based at the University of Guelph, used a mix of genomics and biochemistry to work out how the cannabis plant makes cannflavin A and cannflavin B, two molecules which are 30 times better at quelling inflammation than aspirin.
The molecules are often called flavonoids, and we have been aware of their existence since 1985. However, because of strict regulation on cannabis analysis, work on these molecules has been restricted. Now, due to Canada’s recent legalization of cannabis, scientists have been able to examine them unhindered.
The team used biochemical methods to work out which genes are wanted to make the two molecules and which enzymes are involved within the manufacturing process. Their findings are published within the journal Phytochemistry.
“Our aim was to understand better how these molecules are made, which is a relatively easy exercise these days,” mentioned research co-author Professor Tariq Akhtar in a statement. “There are a lot of sequenced genomes which might be publicly available, together with the genome of Cannabis sativa, which could be mined for data. If we know what we are searching for, one can bring genes to life, so to talk, and piece together how molecules like cannflavins A and B are assembled.”