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OCT is also exploring autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases. Inflammation is an evolutionary-conserved process that helps the body adjust and respond to a number of challenges, from environmental factors to cancer. However, when the immune system “revolts” against the body it can also cause debilitating diseases, including Crohn’s disease, lupus, and ulcerative colitis. An estimated 17.6m patients suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis worldwide and an estimated 37.5m from Psoriatic Arthritis.

Cannabinoids can affect the immune system in various ways, including the proliferation, apoptosis (programmed cell death) and cytokine production of immune cells, and potentially acting as immune modulators. Data from preclinical studies in rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis suggests that cannabinoids have therapeutic potential in immunological disorders.

Unfortunately, clinical data for the treatment of rheumatic diseases with cannabinoids is scarce, demonstrating the need for more studies that improve our understanding of the role cannabinoids can play as immune modulators. Cannabinoids have been shown to influence immune functions, including regulating inflammation, autoimmunity, anti-tumourigenesis, antipathogenic responses and other processes. In vitro and in vivo studies have examined the therapeutic potential of cannabinoid signalling in inflammation-associated diseases and attempted to dissect the complex immunological effects of cannabinoids. Immunological conditions that may benefit from medicines targeting the ECS include psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory and fibrotic diseases.