kidney failure

Newly-announced research shows that cannabis-like drugs prevent kidney failure

Mr Kidney likes cannabis. Photo: kdguthr

Mr Kidney likes cannabis. Photo:
kdguthr

It wasn’t enough that cannabis cures cancer or relieves depression. Now, it looks like it prevents kidney failure in diabetics, too.

THC, the component of cannabis that gets you stoned, is a cannabinoid. A research project run by the University of Aberdeen and funded by Diabetes UK will examine whether synthetic cannabinoids could be used to treat kidney failure caused by diabetes.

Around 40 percent of diabetics develop kidney failure, known to medicine as diabetic nephropathy. In 2012, there were 3.2 million people in the United Kingdom who had diabetes, a figure that is expected to rise to five million by 2025.

Cannabinoids work by influencing the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is comprised of CB1 and CB2 receptors. The former are found mostly in the brain and the latter, elsewhere, but both also occur in kidney cells. CB1 increases and CB2 decreases when patients experience kidney failure.

Dr Mirela Delibegovic, who is leading the project, told that new evidence indicates that to combat diabetes, CB1 receptors should be blocked and CB2 receptors activated, which synthetic cannabinoids could accomplish. Kidney failure necessitates dialysis or renal transplantation, so this would be highly useful. Delibegovic explained that cannabinoids are already known to be beneficial in the treatment of numerous conditions that include rheumatoid arthritis, ?so these compounds could be taken relatively fast from benchside to bedside.? Testing will be undertaken upon mice.

While cannabinoids have no side effects, prescription drugs for diabetes have side effects that include severe health complications. Different studies have found that long-term use can raise the risk of cancer and heart disease, for instance one ongoing 10-year study showed a connection between the anti-diabetes drug, Actos, and a heightened risk of bladder cancer. The US Food and Drug Administration decrees that oral diabetes medicines bear a warning of increased risk of heart attack. Dangers have been known since 1969, when a study was discontinued because participants taking the drugs concerned had a death rate that was higher by between 250 and 300 percent.

Details of the research were made public on November 14 2015 ? World Diabetes Day, which is organised by the International Diabetes Foundation. Blue lights were lit at landmarks worldwide.

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