Cannabinoid Usage in Nanomedicine
Posted: March 23, 2021 in Uncategorized
It is known that cannabinoids degrade quickly. What if there was technology that effectively delivered them directly to where they were needed most? Welcome to nanotechnology, a branch of technology, that deals with substances on an atomic scale. In this article, I will explain nanotechnology and how one of its applications, nanomedicine, is relevant to the use of cannabinoid delivery and its ramifications for breakthroughs in the medical field in treating debilitating diseases.
What is Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is defined as the study and use of structures between 1 nanometer and 100 nanometers in size. A nanometer is 1/1,000,000,000 of a meter. To put into context how small a nanometer is, here are some examples of common nanoscale objects:
- A single water molecule is about 1.5 nanometers.
- A strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers in diameter.
- A single hemoglobin molecule is 5 nanometers across.
- A single bacterium is about 1,000 nanometers long.
- A strand of hair is about 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide.
Scientists have studied and worked with nanoparticles for centuries. Because they were unable to see the structure of nanoparticles, they had to rely on guesswork…until recently. With the development of microscopes able to display nanoparticles, scientists can now see what they are doing.
Nanotechnolgy is being used in many different industries and scientific endeavors, including nanomedicine.
Some of the applications in nanomedicine include the following:
- Drug Delivery
- Cell Repair
- Diagnostic Techniques
- Antibacterial Treatments
- Fighting COVID-19
Some of the nanomedicine techniques are actually already in use. Some are at different stages of testing and some are under development. Some currently only exist in the imagination of scientists for future, long-term research projects such as the creation of nano-robots, capable of making repairs at the cellular level. The possibility is real that this technology may change how diseases are detected and treated, revolutionizing the medical industry.
Nanoscale materials have different properties than those on a larger scale. They include:
- Better at conducting electricity
- Higher strength
- Different chemical reactivity
- Different magnetic properties
- Different light reflection
- Nanotechnology can be used on solids, liquids and gases.
Nanoparticles in Cannabinoid Research
A nanoparticle is a very small particle ranging between 1-100 nanometers. Researchers are currently investigating the best substances for the creation of nanoparticles, the best shape for their delivery and the best transfer mechanisms for specific medications. Nanoparticles can produce heat, can be radioactive and metallic, and deliver stem cells.
Nanoparticles, filled with cannabinoids, are carried to their intended target without degrading, using a time controlled release. Cannabis researchers have realized that they can manipulate nanoparticles which deliver cannabinoids directly to specific cells such as a diseased cancer cell. This minimizes their ability to bind with, and potentially damage healthy cells.
Scientists have already tested synthetic cannabinoids delivered by nanocarriers to treat tumor cells both in vitro and in mice. Some examples of nanocarriers include micelles, polymers, liposomes and carbon-based materials. Cannabis researchers see the future use of a
parent class of nanocarriers which may be able to deal with endocannabinoid deficiencies, thereby treating a large number of different diseases.
They found nanoparticles to be more effective than conventional delivery methods by developing them to work in tandem; one locates the tumor and then signals to the second one to deliver the drug to it.
Advantages of Using Nanotechnology To Deliver Cannabinoids
Allows a more accurate targeting of problem areas
Improves its bioavailability, the ability of a drug to be absorbed and used by the body.
Delivery System Research Currently Underway
Enhancing bioavailability even further
Improving the physical stability of nanoparticles
Boosting the way the different delivery methods are administered, which includes injections, pills or sublingual drops
Nanoemulsions, which combine two liquids that don’t ordinarily combine such as oil and water, are already in use by the food industry. Cannabis researchers foresee using nanoemulsions to protect cannabinoids from degrading during their journey through the human body.
There is much hope that nanotechnology and cannabinoids can be used to treat cancers, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes and a plethora of debilitating inflammatory diseases.
Cannabis researchers foresee the use of nanotechnology to identify a disease at a very early stage. Even more exciting is the possibility of using it to stop the progression of a disease altogether. This would be achieved by correcting a single cell’s mutation by delivering a specific
cannabinoid to it. Another possible scenario is the targeting of a specific endocannabinoid receptor by a nanorobot, thereby shutting down the entire inflammatory response.
In addition, the use of new encapsulation methods may improve potency by increasing bioavailiblity. It also reduces side effects and masks any bitter taste. The possibility exists where specific cannabis strains could have customized therapeutic profiles and where enhanced effects of cannabinoids could be bioengineered.
Other future research includes finding new ways to deliver substances across the blood-brain barrier, a difficult task. This would improve the efficacy of treatments. In order to do this, scientists are engineering lipid nanocapsules containing cannabinoids such as CBD to treat central nervous system diseases.
Recent Cannabinoid Discoveries
Cannabinoid researchers have made great strides in decoding the cannabis genome, have discovered CB1R and CB2R, the main receptors in the endocannabinoid system, as well as other receptors.
Future Cannabinoid Nanotechnology Research
Of course, before any of these treatments can come to fruition, human clinical trials must be conducted to see if and how well they work. Many researchers believe, given the success of nanomedicine for many different disorders, that the implementation of this technology is right around the corner.
leafly.com, How Can Nanomedicine Be Applied To Cannabis? Jacqueline Havelka, Aug. 3, 2020
thoughtco.com, Examples of Nanoscale Objects, Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D, Jan 4, 2020
labroots.com, Nanotechnology Makes Medicinal Cannabis More Effective, Annie Lennon, Aug. 4, 2020
understandingnano.com,, An Introduction To Nanotechnology