Dominik Marko
Dominik Marko
Chemistry & Biology expert
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Genetic screening, personalized therapy and the importance of biomarkers in medical cannabis treatment

Despite the use of cannabis in medicine stretching back hundreds of years, the modern integration and application of medical cannabis into the global health system have been off to a rocky start. While efforts to legalize medical cannabis are underway in most parts of the world, the misconceptions about how medical cannabis works have made it challenging for medical professionals to fully embrace its use and for patients to access it as a viable treatment option. In addition, the lack of quality and reliable data on the efficacy of medical cannabis and standardized testing has led to discrepancies in quality, dosage, and safety, further complicating its integration into mainstream healthcare. 

Debunking The “One Dose For All” Misconception Using Genetic Screening 

One of the common misconceptions about medical cannabis treatment is that people require and should respond universally to the same dose. Clinical trials have shown this not to be accurate, as the genetic differences in our DNA coupled with factors like age and enzymes  have been shown to play a vital role in how our bodies react to medical cannabis. Due to these variables, the way patient A might respond to a lower dose might be different from how patient B reacts to the same dose, which means that to get the desired outcome in both patients, depending on their DNA and how their enzymes metabolize cannabinoids, one patient might require a higher dose to achieve the same result as the patient responding well to a lower dose.  

How Metabolism Plays A Dominant Role In Determining Dosage 

The speed at which your enzymes metabolize cannabinoids is a crucial determinant of the dosage required to achieve the desired outcome when using medical cannabis. The bodies of patients with higher levels of enzymes can metabolize both THC and CBD faster than those with lower enzymes, which means that for medical cannabis to work effectively in these patients, a higher dose is required to cope with the high rate at which cannabinoids are being metabolized. What genetic screening helps medical practitioners achieve is essentially the expression levels of according enzymes in a patient’s body to prescribe the correct dose. Biomarkers assist in this regard by telling the rate at which a patient’s enzymes metabolize cannabinoids to help decide whether a higher or lower dosage is required for the patient. 

Since higher levels of enzymes speed up the degradation of target molecules, patients with higher enzymes often experience a short duration of phytocannabinoids effect compared to patients with lower enzymes, hence the recommended higher dosage. 

Biomarkers and Their Use In Medical Cannabis Treatment 

Biomarkers are biological indicators that can detect certain conditions or characteristics within the human body. These indicators can predict a patient’s response to different phytocannabis concentrations during treatment. Biomarkers involved in medical cannabis include :  

CNR1: Also known as the cannabinoid receptor 1. It is a receptor that aids in regulating psychological processes in the human body, including but not limited to pain and mood. 

CYP3A4: is an enzyme in the liver that helps metabolize several drugs, including medical cannabis, affecting their therapeutic efficacy and safety. 

FAAH: Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase breaks down endocannabinoids responsible for pain relief and mood regulation. 

CYP2C9: is an enzyme that metabolizes many common used drugs and cannabinoids, which can alter their therapeutic efficacy and safety. 

Biomarkers allow us to develop personalized and effective medical cannabis-based treatments for patients. To achieve this, there needs to be more work done to encourage their use in the medical cannabis industry to help patients and medical practitioners become aware of the numerous benefits of biomarker usage. Although their application has been low due to regulatory and financial constraints associated with medical cannabis research due to limited quality data, a few companies are already incorporating biomarkers in the production of personalized medical cannabis products. Some health companies are already at the forefront of genetic testing in medical cannabis-based treatment using biomarkers. As knowledge and awareness of biomarkers in medical cannabis spread, more companies and healthcare providers will begin to offer genetic medical cannabis biomarker services to patients. This move will likely boost the personalization of medical cannabis treatment and improve outcomes for patients suffering from a wide range of conditions that require medical cannabis as a remedy. 

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