By Diane Mar-Nicolle
Cannabis is widely used as a recreational drug but now researchers are discovering new therapeutic uses for it. A recent study from SFU and the University of London sheds light on how Cannabidiol (CBD), the main non-psychoactive chemical in the Cannabis sativa plant, exerts its medicinal effect to provide relief from pain and certain disorders.
Co-author Peter Ruben, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology at SFU explains that sodium channels conduct electrical signals throughout our nerve, muscles and heart.
“These channels are among the proteins through which some pain medications (such as lidocaine) work to block pain sensations,” he says.
Ruben, along with recent Ph.D. graduate Reza Ghovanloo and their UK collaborators, led by Bonnie Wallace, used a combination of structural and functional studies to demonstrate how CBD interacts with sodium channels at the molecular level.
“Now we can actually visualize how CBD docks within the sodium channel protein,” he says