As we managed to nest our place at the Department of Neurochemistry, we could finally set our focus on truly fundamental matter – science and endocannabinoid research!

Substantial ongoing research in leading world’s laboratories has greatly contributed to speed the research area of endocannabinoids. After more than 50 years since the isolation and identification of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) chemical structure by professor Raphael Mechoulam and the subsequent description of the endocannabinoid system, it has finally attracted the mainstream of scientific world. Increasing number of evidence for physiological significance and therapeutic potential of cannabinoids resulted in growing number of various novel pharmacological tools for research. For example, very recently, a group led by prof. Erick Carreira have recently developed a light-sensitive THC molecule that is able to activate or deactivate cannabinoid receptors depending on the stimuli wavelength, which could lead to a breakthrough in pharmacological research.

In our lab, New Year arouse in many interesting collaborations.  We have extended our interests in investigating the properties of cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) ligands in frames of the ongoing project OPUS 2014/13/B/NZ7/02311. Novel pyrazolyl-pyridine based scaffolds targeting CB2 receptors were delivered in frames of collaboration with prof. Federico Corelli lab (Dipartimento di Biotecnologie, Chimica e Farmacia, Università di Siena) and prof. Alessia Ligresti (Endocannabinoid Research Group, ICB CNR, Pozzuoli, Italy). In this way we included studies on CB2 selective agonist, COR1114 and CB2 inverse agonist, COR1073, for functional and behavioural characterization.  This is a great example on how a long-standing friendship between Kasia and Alessia can turn into scientific collaboration.  Soon we’ll start the characterization of anti-inflammatory properties of another, naturally occurring CB2 selective agonist, beta-caryophyllene (BCP).  BCP is a commonly occurring in our diet cannabinoid, bioavailable and apparently non-toxic as well as potent CB2 receptor agonist. The testing compound was kindly provided by  Prof. Dr. Jürg Gertsch from Bern (Switzerland). Last but not least our team will also have an opportunity to investigate non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and its novel fluorinated analogue – HUF-101. Thanks to the courtesy of Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, considered the grandfather of cannabinoid research and the world’s leading authority as well as of Dr. Tamás Bíró,  Director of Applied Research at  Phytecs.

In order to minimize animal studies, we transfer part of our research into in vitro studies and thanks to fellow doctors, we will now have the possibility to study human cells and hopefully we’ll be able to obtain results more translatable to the clinics. We have received a human osteoarthritic synoviocytes from dr Torsten Lowin (Poliklinik und Funktionsbereich für Rheumatologie, Universitätsklinikum Düsseldorf) and now they are cultivated under Kuba’s eye. Moreover, doctors from Galen Hospital in Bieruń Nowy are willing to provide us with synovial tissue from control patients who undergo knee arthroplasty. These parts of the research will contribute to goals of OPUS 2016/23/B/nZ7/01143.

Cooperation is the key for better understanding of the surrounding world. We are very grateful to all our collaborators for providing either the testing compounds or the biological material. Thanks to their input, we will do our best to unravel some of the mysteries of osteoarthritis and endocannabinoid system. Wish us luck!