A picture is worth a thousand words.
This is a commonly used phrase to illustrate the depth of information and meaning a single picture can convey. The same principal applies to areas of biochemistry called “structural biology.”
Proteins are giant molecules (chemicals) that exist within our body. They often perform mechanical functions, like machines, in addition to chemistry. While there are ways to study these proteins, there is only so much we can infer without looking at them.
Cannabinoid Receptor-1 (CB-1) is the receptor that the ever-famous THC binds to. The 3-D structure has evaded scientists for decades. But what if I told you, it was discovered just a few months ago!
CB-1 belongs to a class of proteins called GPCRs, which is the most common class of receptor proteins in our bodies. Over 40 percent of drugs developed target this class, which makes them all the more interesting to look at. The structure of CB-1 and other such proteins have evaded us for so long due to a few reasons—how mobile/unstable they are and the fact that they are buried in a membrane makes them hard to image.
Recent advances in the field of X-ray crystallography have allowed structural biologists to grow crystals of CB-1—like actual crystals! Pretty neat, huh?!
Once the crystals have grown, we can shoot X-rays at them and eventually get detailed information telling us the position of every atom in the molecule.
Now that we have the structure of CB-1, the possibilities with what we do with it are endless.
We will start to understand with intimate detail how THC binding affects the protein differently from its usual binding partners: anandamide, and 2-AG.
You see, THC isn’t the only molecule that interacts with CB-1, and feeling high isn’t the only function of CB-1. What we know so far is that CB-1 is heavily influential in the brain. While it does not participate in a synapse, the primary neuronal communication, it acts in a recently discovered communication mechanism known as cross-talk. CB-1 modulates how a synapse will function and relays information to nearby neurons without exciting/inhibiting them.
Despite the federal government’s view on cannabis and cannabis-related subjects, CB-1 will likely receive a ton of attention, as well as federal funding for research due to its role in diseases such as obesity and epilepsy.
There is already abundant evidence that medical marijuana can treat epilepsy—competing with pharmaceuticals. Now, we will be able to understand how on an atomic scale, the future is neigh. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; I think the worth of CB-1’s structure is limitless.
Images were rendered by B.G. Schmidt using a program called Visual Molecular Dynamics (VMD).
Previously in Stoned Science: The Most Effective Way to Clear a Bowl
These 12 States Could Pass Marijuana Laws This Year
New Zealand Cannabis Company To Export Medical Marijuana to US
Here’s Why Hershey Suing Cannabis Companies
This City Smokes More Weed Than Any Other
Culture6 days ago
14 High Profile People Who Like To Get High
Products1 week ago
10 Best Quartz Bangers Of 2017
Culture1 week ago
The Origins of Your Favorite Weed Slang
Entertainment1 week ago
Nine Authors Who Smoked Weed
Culture5 days ago
8 of The Craziest Weed Conspiracies That Might Be True
Culture7 days ago
7 Scientists Who Smoked Weed
Entertainment1 week ago
Netflix’s Weed-Themed Sitcom ‘Disjointed’ Canceled
Guides1 week ago
Here’s How Much An Ounce of Weed Costs Around The World