Israeli scientist to present on medicinal potential of cannabis

Israel is global leader in cannabis research

Media Contact: Patrick Luce, 401-874-4046 |
Israeli scientist Hinanti Koltai
Israeli scientist Hinanti Koltai

KINGSTON, R.I. — March 8, 2019 — With the medical use of marijuana becoming more common and public awareness of it increasing, more and more scientists are judiciously studying all potential medical uses of the plant. Israel has a long history with medical cannabis and is considered a global leader of its research and innovation.

Israeli scientist Hinanti Koltai, the senior research scientist for the Agricultural Research Organization at the Volcani Center in Rishon Lezion, Israel, will lecture on “Medical cannabis: From Weed to Molecules and Drug Development,” March 27 at noon in the Center for Biological and Life Sciences, 120 Flagg Road, Kingston.

The medical use of cannabis sativa has been legal in Israel since the early 1990s, before California became the first state to legalize medical use. Before that, however, Israeli scientists became the first to isolate the compound of THC and recognize it as the main psychoactive ingredient in 1964. The same scientists also discovered CBD, the compound believed to give cannabis it’s anti-inflammatory properties. The Israeli military has even been known to use cannabis to treat its soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Koltai’s lecture will focus on the use of plant-derived substances as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as plant hormones and genomics. She studies the medicinal properties of cannabis as well as the development of new cannabis-derived drugs.

Her lab has primarily been interested in deciphering what it called the “entourage effect,” used to describe the process in which the many different compounds found in cannabis work together to provide its medicinal effects. Besides THC and CBD, there are hundreds of other compounds, including other cannabinoids as well as compounds called flavonoids and terpenes.

“The entourage effect is the synergy between cannabis-derived compounds,” Koltai said. “Synergistic interactions may occur between different cannabinoids, or between cannabinoids and terpenes. Hence, cannabis medical preparations should be optimized to contain mixtures of these sativa-derived compounds and/or the whole extract with compositions showing the greatest synergistic activity.”

“I look forward to interacting with URI scientists and in particular with scientists, lecturers and students of the pharmacy college, to discuss this exciting and rising issue of medical cannabis,” Koltai said. “URI is well known for breakthrough research, good science and a collaborative approach.”

Koltai’s lecture is free and open to the public.