The cannabis plant is known because one of over 400 chemicals it contains, THC, can have powerful effects on the brain. Until now this was thought to be the most psychoactive substance produced by this plant, but it seems that this is not the case. A team of Italian researchers announced the discovery of two new cannabinoid substances produced by cannabis, tetrahydrocannabiforol (THCP) and cannabidiforol (CBDP).
While the second substance can be considered very close to cannabidiol (CBD), a substance with relaxing and sleep-promoting effects, the first substance, according to the researchers themselves, is at least 30 times more potent than THC itself, according to an article in Vice which resumed the same study. This is what the researchers discovered by performing experiments on mice and injecting low doses of THCP into their bodies. The latter seemed much more active than THC, although this does not automatically mean that such a substance can have 30 times more psychoactive effect on humans than THC.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, could explain why different sensations are obtained when smoking different marijuana mixtures and in general could be useful to further clarify the medicinal use of the same THC. Researchers found relatively low amounts of THCP and CBDP in the plants they analysed but believe that there may be higher amounts of THCP and CBDP in other cannabis strains and this will need to be investigated in further studies.
If this is true, these new cannabinoids could be produced in high amounts but this is still far from reality because it is not even known if CBDP and THCP can be as medically useful as their counterparts. The necessary studies could take several years, much longer than would be necessary. Research into this plant could be slowed down by the fact that it is considered illegal and an illicit drug in many regions of the world.
It has been observed that rattlesnakes can drink raindrops running down the scales on their back. This can be very useful especially in those drought phases during which you need to take advantage of even the shortest thunderstorms to drink as much as possible, a behavior that helps these snakes to survive in desert environments with very rare rains.
In order to understand how the serpents are able to hold the water among the scales of their body for longer, a team of researchers has realized a study whose results have then appeared on ACS Omega.
The researchers specifically analyzed this behavior in the Crotalus atrox rattlesnake, which can be found mainly in the southwestern areas of the United States and northern areas of Mexico. This serpent, when it rains, comes out from its den and literally collects the rain, but also the sleet or even the snow, trapping it between the scales of its own body. For doing so, it flattens the body itself, in order to maximize the area of the collection, so that the raindrops flow on its back. In this way the snake is then able to suck the water from the scales.
The researchers have analyzed at the nanoscopic level the scales of this serpent comparing them with those of two other species of serpents which do not show this behavior but which live in desert environments too, that is, the serpents of the genus Lampropeltis and that of the subspecies Pituophis affinis catenifer. The researchers have dropped drops of water on the back of these serpents. In the Crotalus atrox, these droplets tended to unite and stick to the scales forming small “puddles” which did not happen on the skin of the other two serpents.
Using scanning electron microscopy, the researchers took a closer look at the scales of Crotalus atrox and discovered nano-channels that form a sort of labyrinth and which also help to collect water through a sticky, hydrophobic surface on which the water itself almost seems to stick.
Regular physical activity since childhood is linked to a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables than people with lower physical activity or persistent inactivity levels. A researcher from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland who analyzed the data contained in a Finnish national study is of this opinion.
The same data shows, among other things, that the consumption of fruit and vegetables in Finland has increased during this century, as stated by Irinja Lounassalo, a PhD student at the aforementioned Finnish University that carried out the study. The same data suggested that men who reduced their level of physical activity showed a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables than their peers who had been less active until adulthood.
It follows that a reduction in physical activity in leisure time may be linked to an additional health risk resulting from a diet too low in fruit and vegetables.
“In health guidance, it would be important to recognise that these two health behaviours could facilitate each other,” explains Lounassalo, a doctoral candidate at the University of Jyväskylä. “For example, when you aim to increase a person’s level of activity, improving the quality of the diet at the same time could happen quite naturally. This could be a way to promote more holistic wellness.”
A team of researchers from the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (IBB-UAB) analyzed the techniques used by Mycoplasma genitalium, a pathogenic bacterium that also attacks the human body and is proving increasingly resistant to antibiotics, to spread.
In particular, researchers have analyzed the processes that this bacterium puts in place to grab the few quantities of metals that are present in our body and that are used by these same bacteria to survive and multiply.
In our bodies, in fact, the metals are quite scarce because they are bound to the proteins that preserve them and transport them inside the cells or tissues where they are then used. In order to acquire these scarce quantities of metal, which are real essential nutrients for them, bacteria put in place increasingly complicated and sophisticated mechanisms.
Mycoplasma genitalium (Mge), an emerging sexually transmitted pathogen, is proving to be increasingly good at doing this and is becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. And this is becoming more and more a serious problem as this pathogen can be responsible for several diseases of the genito-urinary tract.
Researchers have identified the protein this bacterium uses to regulate metal absorption, a protein that acts as a ferric absorption regulator. In addition, they identified several other important proteins that play a role in the transport of the same metals in the microorganism.
“Through transcriptomic and proteomic techniques, we have been able to determine changes in the gene expression of Mge in the presence and absence of metals,” says Carlos Martínez, the main author of the research. “In addition, we were able to identify the metals required by bacteria for growth using a mass spectrometry analysis developed by the analytical chemistry unit UAB,” says Sergi Torres, another of the authors of the study.
The intestinal microbiome, the set of microorganisms that live in our intestines, has been the subject of a new study that confirms how decisive it can be in other areas of the body. Now a new study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, describes how intestinal microbiome can protect brain cells from damage caused by inflammation following stroke.
According to the researchers, short-chain fatty acids are responsible for the improvement after stroke. These fats are produced by bacteria in the intestine and are one of the basic components of intestinal health. This is one of the first studies to explore the link between the gut microbiome and stroke itself, although it was already known that microbes in the gut can affect the health of the brain.
According to Ann Stowe, a researcher at the Department of Neurology at the University of Kentucky and one of the authors of the study, the microbiome can affect neuroinflammation following a brain injury and this is demonstrated by the experiments she and her colleagues carried out on mice. The water-drinking rodents to which the scientists had added short-chain fatty acids showed better recovery from stroke compared to mice in the control group.
They showed, in particular, less pronounced motor impairment and greater growth of nerve cell dendrites, which are very important for memory. The same mice treated with short-chain fatty acids also showed a higher amount of genes linked to the microglia, the immune cell complex in the brain.
According to the researchers, the same short-chain fatty acids act as messengers in the link between the intestine and the brain, in this case positively influencing the way the brain itself recovers lesions.
At this point, the researchers already think of a food supplement based on short-chain fatty acids as a relatively safe additional therapy for the rehabilitation of stroke patients.