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Hebrew University and City of Jerusalem to Host 'International Conference on the Cannabinoids' in 2021

26/07/2017
From 'Startup Nation' to 'Cannabis Research Nation'

The International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS - http://icrs.co) has chosen the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to host the International Symposium on the Cannabinoids in 2021 in Jerusalem.

The ICRS is the oldest scientific society dedicated to the research in the cannabis plant, cannabinoids, and their physiological and biochemical targets.  The ICRS has nearly 400 members from all over the world.  The members and guests of the ICRS gather yearly to present the ICRS Symposium.

Hundreds of participants from Israel and around the world will participate in the conference, at the International Convention Center (ICC) in Jerusalem, in cooperation with the Jerusalem Conventions & Visitors Bureau (JCVB), which operates under the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA).

The event will be hosted by the Hebrew University's Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research (MCCR - http://cannabinoids.huji.ac.il), which is the leading center in Israel for conducting and coordinating research on cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and medical Cannabis.

Over the last 50 years, Hebrew University research has spearheaded a new scientific era of Cannabis research. Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, a Hebrew University researcher widely regarded as “the father of cannabinoid research,” and his colleagues isolated the active constituent of the Cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, elucidated its structure, and synthesized it. Later Prof. Mechoulam identified the endogenous cannabinoids (formed in the mammalian body) and thus pioneered the field of cannabinoid research.

The International Symposium will mark Prof. Mechoulam’s 90th birthday in his home town of Jerusalem.

The Symposium will feature oral and poster presentations covering a wide range of topics germane to cannabinoid science and medicine. Past conferences have covered such topics as autoimmunity, epilepsy, pain, PTSD, drug development and medicinal chemistry, neuroprotection, metabolism, endocrine and obesity, cancer, and much more.

Prof. Cecilia Hillard, Executive Director of the ICRS, said: "The board of directors of the International Cannabinoid Research Society is very pleased that our 31st annual meeting will be held in Jerusalem in 2021.  Jerusalem holds a special place in the history of the science of cannabis and the endocannabinoids. Prof. Raphael Mechoulam of Hebrew University was the first to publish the structure of the active principal of cannabis, THC and was also the first to identify an endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide.  Just as impressive is the current state of cannabinoid research in Jerusalem and Israel at large, including the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research led by Dr. Tam.  We are looking forward to visiting Jerusalem and to an exciting and informative conference."

Dr. Joseph (Yossi) Tam, Director of the Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, said: "I’m excited that the International Cannabinoid Research Society has decided hold its 31st conference in Jerusalem under the auspices of the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research. One of our first goals after establishing the Center was to host the ICRS conference in Jerusalem, so that the international community of researchers can learn about the highly advanced work in the field of cannabinoids carried out in the Center and in Israel. I am certain that hosting this high-level conference will constitute another turning point in Israel's position as a global leader in cannabinoid research and development.”

"Modulating endocannabinoid activity has therapeutic potential in a large number of human diseases, and research on cannabinoids may lead to very significant advances in basic science and therapeutics. We look forward to hosting the world’s top scientists working to discover new therapies based on cannabinoids,” said Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, Head of the Academic Committee of the Multidisciplinary Center, and the Lionel Jacobson Professor Emeritus of Medicinal Chemistry in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine.

"Bringing this global symposium to Jerusalem emphasizes the ongoing collaboration between multiple institutions including the JCVB, ICC, and MCCR. This partnership was only possible with the shared vision in highlighting the city’s potential as a leading scientific conference destination. Jerusalem offers an ideal setting to host the over 400 global researchers to learn and promote the exchange of scientific information and gain new perspectives about Cannabis," said Ilanit Melchior, Director of Tourism in Jerusalem.

“As the largest and leading conference center in Israel, the Jerusalem ICC looks forward to hosting this important conference aimed at bringing international researchers together to improve human health and well-being,” said Mira Altman, CEO of the International Convention Center (ICC) in Jerusalem.

The ICRS is a scientific association with hundreds of international members, all active researchers in the field of endogenous, plant-derived and synthetic cannabinoids and related bioactive lipids. The ICRS Symposium is considered the most important conference in the field of cannabinoids research. The conference brings together the leading researchers from the international scientific community and presents the latest and most up-to-date research in the field.

The Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, staffed by leading scientists and medical doctors from the Hebrew University and its affiliated Hadassah Medical Center, conducts and coordinates exciting new research about cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and medical Cannabis, while promoting collaboration and disseminating information. More info at http://cannabinoids.huji.ac.il/.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s leading academic and research institution, is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world. Founded in 1918 by visionaries including Albert Einstein, the Hebrew University is a pluralistic institution where science and knowledge are advanced for the benefit of humankind. For more information, please visit http://new.huji.ac.il/en

Image for download: Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research (Credit: Hebrew University) http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170405_MDCR.jpg

Hebrew University and City of Jerusalem to Host 'International Conference on the Cannabinoids' in 2021
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Cannabis reverses aging processes in brains of mice

08/05/2017

Researchers restore the memory performance of Methuselah mice to a juvenile stage

Next step: clinical trials in humans to see whether THC reverses aging processes and increases cognitive ability

Memory performance decreases with increasing age. Cannabis can reverse these aging processes in the brain. This was shown in mice by scientists at the University of Bonn with their colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Old animals were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice with a prolonged low-dose treatment with a cannabis active ingredient. This opens up new options, for instance, when it comes to treating dementia. The results are now presented in the journal Nature Medicine.

Like any other organ, our brain ages. As a result, our cognitive abilities decrease with increasing age. Thus it becomes more difficult to learn new things or devote attention to several things at the same time. This process is normal, but can also promote dementia. Researchers have long been looking for ways to slow down or even reverse this process.

Scientists at the University of Bonn and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have now achieved this in mice. With their short life expectancy, these animals display pronounced cognitive deficits even at twelve months of age. The researchers administered a small quantity of THC, the active ingredient in the hemp plant (cannabis), to mice aged two, twelve and 18 months over a period of four weeks.

Afterwards, they tested learning capacity and memory performance in the animals – including, for instance, orientation skills and the recognition of other mice. Mice that were only given a placebo displayed natural age-dependent learning and memory losses. In contrast, the cognitive functions of the animals treated with cannabis were just as good as the two-month-old control animals. “The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals,” reported Prof. Andreas Zimmer from the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn and member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation.

Years of meticulous research

This treatment success is the result of years of meticulous research. First, the scientists discovered that the brain ages much faster when mice do not possess any functional receptors for THC. These cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors are proteins to which the substances dock and thus trigger a signal chain. CB1 is also the reason for the intoxicating effect of THC in cannabis products, such as hashish or marihuana, which accumulate at the receptor. THC imitates the effect of cannabinoids produced naturally in the body, which fulfil important functions in the brain. “With increasing age, the quantity of the cannabinoids naturally formed in the brain reduces,” says Prof. Zimmer. “When the activity of the cannabinoid system declines, we find rapid aging in the brain.”

To discover precisely what effect the THC treatment has in old mice, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led by Dr. Mona Dvir-Ginzberg and the late Prof. Itai Bab, examined the epigenetic changes in brains of aged mice treated with THC.

"The THC treatment induced molecular and epigenetic changes, which no longer corresponded to that of untreated old animals, but rather were similar to what we see in young animals," said Dr. Mona Dvir-Ginzberg from the Institute of Dental Sciences, in the Faculty of Dental Medicine at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Moreover, the number of links between the nerve cells in the brain also increased again, which is an important prerequisite for learning ability. “It looked as though the THC treatment turned back the molecular clock,” says Zimmer.

Next step: clinical trial on humans

A low dose of the administered THC was chosen so that there was no intoxicating effect in the mice. Cannabis products are already permitted as medications, for instance as pain relief. As a next step, the researchers want to conduct a clinical trial to investigate whether THC also reverses aging processes in the brain in humans and can increase cognitive ability.

CITATION: A chronic low dose of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice, Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.4311 (link: https://www.nature.com/nm/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nm.4311.html)

Cannabis reverses aging processes in brains of mice
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Hebrew University Launches Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research

05/04/2017

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has announced the launch of a Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research (http://cannabinoids.huji.ac.il). The new Center will serve as one of the world’s leading institutes for conducting and coordinating research about cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and medical Cannabis. In addition, it will promote collaboration and disseminate information

Staffed by some of the world’s leading scientists and medical doctors from the Hebrew University and its affiliated Hadassah Medical Center, the Multidisciplinary Center is already supporting exciting new research. In February 2017, the Center awarded funding to three research projects:

"The establishment in Israel of the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research is of great relevance at this time since both academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies worldwide are channeling enormous efforts to basic and clinical research in this field," said Dr. Joseph (Yossi) Tam, Director of the Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, and Head of the Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory at the Hebrew University’s Institute for Drug Research in the Faculty of Medicine.

The Center’s research will focus on the following areas: Cancer; Pain; Inflammation & Stress Management; Immunity; Metabolism; Drug Delivery & Nanotechnology; Pharmaceutical Chemistry; Neuroscience; and Plant Science & Genetics.

Along with integrating the research activities of multiple Hebrew University research laboratories into interdisciplinary networks, the Center, which relies on the infrastructure of the Institute for Drug Research at the School of Pharmacy in the Faculty of Medicine, will also foster collaborations between its participating laboratories and other well-established research groups around the globe. 

"We feel incredibly fortunate to team up with a vast number of scientists working together on this expanding field of medicine with the significant potential to discover new therapies based on cannabinoids," said Dr. Tam.

Until very recently, the Cannabis plant and its extracts (popularly called marijuana, hashish, weed, grass, and so on) were mostly frowned upon as purely recreational drugs. However, over the last 50 years, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University has spearheaded a new scientific era of Cannabis research. Prof. Mechoulam with his colleagues isolated the active constituent of the Cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, elucidated its structure and synthesized it. Later he identified the endogenous cannabinoids (formed in the mammalian body) and thus pioneered the field of cannabinoid research.

"It has been shown that modulating endocannabinoid activity has therapeutic potential in a large number of human diseases, hence research on cannabinoids may lead to very significant advances, not only in basic science but also in therapeutics. Our Multidisciplinary Center addresses many aspects in this promising area, such as cancer, head injury, addiction, bone formation, obesity and others," said Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, Head of the Academic Committee of the Multidisciplinary Center, and the Lionel Jacobson Professor Emeritus of Medicinal Chemistry in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine.

The Center’s teams of highly qualified researchers comprise Heads of Labs and Research Groups ranging through Nano-Medicine & Nano Delivery Systems, Tumor Micro-environment, Neurobiology, Pain Relief & Plasticity, Molecular Modeling & Drug Design, Immuno-pharmacology, Free Radicals, Stress and Plant Pathogen Interactions. 

The Center’s informational resources include a World Calendar of Cannabinoids, featuring information about major upcoming events in the field of cannabinoid research.

Image for download: Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research (Credit: Hebrew University) http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu170405_MDCR.jpg

Inquiries about the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research can be directed to Dr. Yossi Tam at yossit[at]ekmd.huji.ac.il.   

Hebrew University Launches Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research
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