The brain itself contains substances with workings similar to cannabis. These substances are part of the brain's endocannabinoid (eCB) system. This project aims to discover the role of the eCB system in the regulation of brain functions involved in psychopathological syndromes with high medical need, such as addiction and cognitive disorders.

By administrating medicine that can simulate the natural occurrence of cannabinoids in the brain, their effect on psychological disorders can be studied. The combination of technologies, ranging from in-vitro approaches to behavioral models matched between animals and humans, might lead to an integrated systems model. These results may lead to new medication for certain psychological disorders.

Fast facts
Full project title: The neurophysiological role of the endocannabinoid system in support of smoking cessation, fighting addiction and treating cognitive decline
Start date: July 2007
End date: July 2011
Goal: Elucidate the role of the endocannabiod system in the development of psychological disorders
Principal investigator: Guus van Scharrenburg
Project size: 11 FTE's
Partners: Abbott, Academic Medical Center (AMC) Amsterdam, Centre for Human Drug Research, MSD, University Medical Center Utrecht, University of Amsterdam, University of Groningen, VU University Medical Center 


The endocannabinoid system is named after specific lipids that bind the cannabinoid receptor. Indeed, the same receptors targeted by the psychoactive component of cannabis, THC. The endocannabinoid system is involved in many physiological processes. These processes include memory, mood, pain-sensation and appetite. The importance of these processes and their associated diseases of defects, explain why the endocannabinoid system has been, and still is subject of numerous research efforts.

“The experience that TI Pharma has from putting together partnerships to research neglected diseases is really valuable, because it applies across other therapeutic diseases.”

Tim Wells
Chief Scientific Officer
Medicines for Malaria Venture

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