Cannabinoidsby Vincenzo Di Marzo
‘Cannabinoids’ is a broad term covering a group of natural products from Cannabis sativa, one of which locks on to specific receptors – protein molecules on the surface of cells – known as cannabinoid receptors. Over the past decades scientists have found that cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands, the endocannabinoids, are
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‘Cannabinoids’ is a broad term covering a group of natural products from Cannabis sativa, one of which locks on to specific receptors – protein molecules on the surface of cells – known as cannabinoid receptors. Over the past decades scientists have found that cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands, the endocannabinoids, are involved in a vast array of physiological functions, including helping to control brain activity, energy metabolism, heart function, the immune system and even reproduction.
In Cannabinoids, Vincenzo Di Marzo has assembled contributions from international experts to provide the definitive guide to what continues to be a rapidly developing research field. After an introductory historical chapter, the book continues by looking at the biochemical, genetic and molecular elements of cannabinoids, followed by chapters covering their role in health and disease. The final chapter outlines the need for a new nomenclature to reflect the complex and multi-disciplinary nature of this area.
Description: In the last few decades there has been extensive research on the actions of cannabinoids from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, on various biological systems. This book summarizes the research that has been carried out in three directions: structure-activity relationships of cannabinoids with their receptors; the endocannabinoid system, that is the cannabinoid receptors and their regulation; and possible therapeutic uses of agonists and antagonists of cannabinoid receptors.
Purpose: Although the pharmacology and toxicology of cannabis have been studied for a long time, the availability of pure tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the 1960s was the beginning of major scientific research. This book intends to bring together recent research on various facets of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system in mammals and lower vertebrates. The book is a good and useful review of the status of cannabinoid research and the directions in which the research is going.
Audience: Because the stated aim of the book is to serve as a valuable tool to students and scholars interested in the pharmacological and medical aspects of cannabinoids and the potential for various therapeutic uses as a result of the research, these individuals are the main audience for the book. In addition, the section on potential therapeutic uses may be of interest to a wide audience. Those doing research on cannabinoids will find the chapters on the chemistry of cannabinoids and the relation to endocannabinoids of special interest. The contributors are research investigators from Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. The editor is Vincenzo di Marzo of the National Research Council, Pozzuoli, Italy.
Features: Since the structure of THC was determined in the 1960s, about 66 related terpenophenols have been isolated by various investigators. The identification of cannabinoid receptors and endogenous ligands for these receptors has resulted in greatly increased understanding of THC pharmacology. These aspects of cannabinoids are well reviewed in this book, including structure-activity relationships. Current research on possible therapeutic uses of cannabinoids is covered in the second half of the book. The main uses covered in depth are: effects on eating disorders; on neuronal damage; on pain modulation; and on alcohol use. Various aspects of each of these topics is covered. For example, the review of actions on neuronal damage covers topics as different as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease and the relation to glutamate and excitotoxic neuronal death. Each chapter is well referenced.
Assessment: Scientists interested in various aspects of current research on cannabinoid receptors and chemical components found in Cannabis sativa and the endocannabinoid system in animals will find this book a good review. Experimental studies on the relationship of cannabinoids to immune responses, neuronal damage and antinociception are well covered. Another recent book focused more on practical aspects of possible therapeutic uses is The Medicinal Uses of Cannabis and Cannabinoids, edited by Guy et al. (Pharmaceutical Press, 2004).
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