Using Analytical Tools to Reveal the Therapeutic Effects of Different Compounds in Cannabis Plant

David (Dedi) Meiri, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel

Cannabis is a complex plant composed of several hundred compounds of various chemical classes and wide concentrations. These are biosynthesized as secondary metabolites mainly in glandular trichomes which are abundant on the surface of the female inflorescence. An increasing body of evidence over the last decade has shed light on the therapeutic potential of many of these metabolites, mainly phytocannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids. Their biological mechanisms are attributable mainly to their interactions with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

In the Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research Laboratory in the Technion we aim to determine the therapeutic effects of Cannabis specific compounds and to elucidate their mechanisms of action in cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, the immune system, energy expenditure and metabolism, pain, sleep and others. In order to characterize the Cannabis extracts used in our research, we have established an array of analytical chemistry methods for comprehensive identification, extraction, isolation and quantification of whole metabolites in Cannabis. In this regard, we have developed specific liquid and gas chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS and GC-MS/MS) methods for metabolic profiling of phytocannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids in Cannabis extracts. Using our supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) system, preparative high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), semiprep HPLC and Pope Wiped-film stiller (WFMS), we are able to purify single phytocannabinoids and create 'suspect profiles' for examination in our studies. These combined facilities, equipment, and group expertise enable us the supreme ability to analyze the clinical effects of specific Cannabis compositions and ratios to establish the optimal treatment strategy for patients thus paving the way towards personalized medicine.

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