Patty Wellborn

Email: patty-wellborn@news.ok.ubc.ca


 

But newly uncovered compounds could explain different pharmacological effects

A rose by any other name is still a rose. The same, it turns out, can be said for cannabis.

Newly published research from UBC’s Okanagan campus has determined that many strains of cannabis have virtually identical levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), despite their unique street names.

“It is estimated that there are several hundred or perhaps thousands of strains of cannabis currently being cultivated,” says Professor Susan Murch, who teaches chemistry at UBC Okanagan. “We wanted to know how different they truly are, given the variety of unique and exotic names.”

Cannabis breeders have historically selected strains to produce THC, CBD or both, she explains. But the growers have had limited access to different types of plants and there are few records of the parentage of different strains.

Susan Murch, professor of chemistry.

Susan Murch, professor of chemistry.

“People have had informal breeding programs for a long time,” Murch says. “In a structured program we would keep track of the lineage, such as where the parent plants came from and their characteristics. With unstructured breeding, which is the current norm, particular plants were picked for some characteristic and then given a new name.”

Until now, the chemical breakdown of many strains has been unknown because of informal breeding.

Elizabeth Mudge, a doctoral student working with Murch and Paula Brown, Canada Research Chair in Phytoanalytics at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, examined the cannabinoid—a class of chemical compounds that include THC and CBD—profiles of 33 strains of cannabis from five licensed producers.

The research shows that most strains, regardless of their origin or name, had the same amount of THC and CBD. They also discovered that breeding highly potent strains of cannabis impacts the genetic diversity within the crop, but not THC or CBD levels.

However, Mudge says that they found differences in a number of previously unknown cannabinoids — and these newly discovered compounds, present in low quantities, could be related to pharmacological effects and serve as a source of new medicines.

“A high abundance compound in a plant, such as THC or CBD, isn’t necessarily responsible for the unique medicinal effects of certain strains,” says Mudge. “Understanding the presence of the low abundance cannabinoids could provide valuable information to the medical cannabis community.”

Currently licensed producers are only required to report THC and CBD values. But Murch says her new research highlights that the important distinguishing chemicals in cannabis strains are not necessarily being analysed and may not be fully identified.

Murch says while patients are using medical cannabis for a variety of reasons, they actually have very little information on how to base their product choice. This research is a first step towards establishing an alternative approach to classifying medical cannabis and providing consumers with better information.

Murch’s research was recently published in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.

Time with his dying father leads to new book, and profound new quality of life

Award-winning musician, journalist, and writer Wab Kinew will talk about his new book The Reason You Walk when he visits Kelowna September 30. Kinew is the next speaker in UBC Okanagan’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Photo courtesy of: Katelyn Malo

What: Distinguished Speaker Series: The Reason You Walk
Who: Wab Kinew, Canadian journalist, author, hip-hop musician
When: Wednesday, September 30 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kelowna Community Theatre, 1375 Water St., Kelowna 

A celebrated journalist, writer, musician, and hip-hop artist Wab Kinew knows what it’s like to be at a major crossroads in life. Growing up, initially on a reserve in northern Ontario and then in the inner city of Winnipeg, Kinew could have become a victim of circumstance and his family’s history. His father was raised in a residential school; stories of abuse, rape, alcoholism, and brutality were the constant shadows of his family’s background.

Kinew’s path could have taken any direction. He made mistakes. But he also asked questions. And he expected changes. When those didn’t come, he made his own changes and began speaking out about why Aboriginal people are treated differently than non-Aboriginals.

Already successful in his career, Kinew decided to spend time reconnecting with his dad shortly after his father was diagnosed with cancer. His book, The Reason You Walk, is the result of that time together and the conversations and healing that took place. This chapter in his life will be the main topic of Kinew’s talk when he visits Kelowna as part of UBC Okanagan’s Distinguished Speaker Series September 30.

Talented, passionate and smart, Kinew — who has a degree in economics — has become an accomplished journalist and a motivational speaker. He helped produce and host the acclaimed CBC series 8th Fire, has hosted Canada Reads, is an Aljazeera America correspondent, and at the same time is the Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs at the University of Winnipeg. His hip hop music has won an Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Award, his journalism has won accolades, and he’s been nominated for a Gemini. Postmedia News has called him one of “nine Aboriginal movers and shakers you should know.”

Kinew will speak at the Kelowna Community Theatre, 1375 Water Street on Wednesday, September 30 at 7 p.m. His visit is part of the UBC Okanagan’s Distinguished Speaker Series which is presented by the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. This event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.

To register, visit: www.speakers.ok.ubc.ca

The Reason You Walk will be published this fall and UBC’s Bookstore plans to provide the book for sale at the event.

The Distinguished Speaker Series brings to the Okanagan compelling speakers, with unique perspectives on issues that affect our region, our country and our world. The theme of the series is A Civil and Sustainable Society.

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Award-winning writer and broadcaster Jay Ingram is UBC Okanagan’s next distinguished speaker. He will discuss the science of Alzheimer’s on Wednesday, February 25 at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

High demand in community for Alzheimer’s speaker

UBC Okanagan has added a second evening to its Distinguished Speaker Series presentation by Jay Ingram.

The iconic Canadian writer and broadcaster will speak about his new book The End of Memory: A Natural history of Alzheimer’s disease on Thursday, February 26 at the Mary Irwin Theatre. The talk, free and open to the public, will be his second presentation on the topic, as his first presentation the previous evening is fully booked.

This is the first time a Distinguished Speaker Series presentation has been extended to a two-night engagement.

"It's not surprising there is a thirst for knowledge about Alzheimer's disease,” says Ingram. “It's now the subject of plays and novels, but it is also important to understand the history of the disease and the science.”

In his latest book, The End of Memory, Ingram explores the mystery of Alzheimer’s and how it attacks the brain. Alzheimer’s is a growing concern as more and more people are being diagnosed with the disease as populations are living longer.

Ingram, the former host of popular science shows such as CBC’s Quirks and Quarks and Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet, will speak about the mystery of Alzheimer’s and the desperate need for more research funding.

The Science of Alzheimer’s Distinguished Speaker event is presented by UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, and takes place Thursday, February 26, at the Mary Irwin Theatre, 421 Cawston Avenue, Kelowna. The event is free and begins at 7 p.m.

Registration is required: dss-ingram-night2.eventbrite.ca

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Award-winning writer and broadcaster Jay Ingram is UBC Okanagan’s next distinguished speaker. He will discuss the science of Alzheimer’s on Wednesday, February 25 at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

UBC Okanagan’s Distinguished Speaker Series tackles mystery of the tragic illness

Jay Ingram describes Alzheimer’s as a wicked disease that society has ignored for too long. While much research has been done on memory loss, the cruelty of Alzheimer’s is the tragic effect it has on the life of the patient, and how it devastates those left to care for a person who no longer knows who they are.

In his latest book, The End of Memory, the award-winning science author explores the mystery of Alzheimer’s and how it attacks the brain. And he raises valid questions: where did it come from? Why weren’t we talking about it 50 years ago? Do we understand what is really going on in a patient’s afflicted brain?

German neurologist Alois Alzheimer first diagnosed the disease in 1906. While it’s been recognized for decades, Ingram argues research money set aside for Alzheimer’s still trails far behind funding for other deadly illnesses such as cancer and lung disease. And as society continues to live longer than previous generations, more and more people will be diagnosed and begin the long, lonely demise of Alzheimer’s.

Ingram says it’s time for a rethink on how we deal with Alzheimer’s. Being informed, he says, is a good thing and his goal with his new book is to help people understand the disease. Ingram will unravel some of the mystery of Alzheimer’s at UBC Okanagan’s Distinguished Speaker Series in Kelowna on Wednesday, February 25.

Ingram is an iconic Canadian writer and broadcaster, hosting several shows including CBC’s Quirks and Quarks and Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet. His book The End of Memory: A Natural history of Alzheimer’s disease will be available for sale and signing at the Distinguished Speaker Series event.

The Science of Alzheimer’s is presented by UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, and takes place at the Kelowna Community Theatre, 1375 Water St. The event is free and begins at 7 p.m.

Registration is required: dss-ingram.eventbrite.ca

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Award-winning photographer Edward Burtynsky collects images from an oilfield. His October 22 presentation, Landscape of Human Systems, is part of UBC Okanagan’s Distinguished Speaker Series.
(Photo credit: Noah Weinzweig)

Award-winning artist is UBC Okanagan’s next distinguished speaker

World-renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky is returning to UBC Okanagan.

Burtynsky, who was presented with an honorary doctoral degree from UBC Okanagan in June 2013, is the first guest of this year’s Distinguished Speaker Series. In his Landscape of Human Systems presentation, Burtynsky presents a collection of his work, including large-scale colour photographs and recent film footage. While his large photographs will be displayed behind him, he will discuss the technique behind his image-making as he explores society’s troubling relationship with nature.

Born in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, a town dependent on auto assembly plants, he grew up in a heavily industrial yet picturesque part of the country. He started taking pictures at age 11, shortly after his father purchased a used camera and some darkroom equipment. He earned his degree in photography from Ryerson University, and studied graphic art at Niagara College.

Burtynsky’s imagery explores the link between industry and nature, and the damage society has done to the planet through mining, quarrying, manufacturing, shipping, and oil production. His remarkable large-format photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes are included in the collections of more than 50 major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In 2006, Burtynsky became an Officer of the Order of Canada. His other distinctions include the TED Prize, the Outreach award at the Rencontres d’Arles, the Roloff Beny Book award, the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, and the Award in Contemporary Art from Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.

Burtynsky’s The Landscape of Human Systems takes place at the Kelowna Community Theatre, 1375 Water St, on Wednesday, October 22, at 7 p.m. His visit is presented by the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, as part of UBC's Distinguished Speaker Series.

This event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. To register, visit: speakers.ok.ubc.ca/2014/burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky has spent decades photographing modern society's troubling relationship with nature. His Landscape of Human Systems presentation on October 22 is a combination of new photographs and film production that document his findings.

Edward Burtynsky has spent decades photographing modern society's troubling relationship with nature. His Landscape of Human Systems presentation on October 22 is a combination of new photographs and film production that document his findings.

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Col. Chris Hadfield plays the song, Is Somebody Singing, with students at École KLO Middle School.

Canada’s most famous astronaut recounts times in space and on earth

How do you tune your guitar in space? Or sleep? Even breathe?

Col. Chris Hadfield makes a point during his talk to students at École KLO Middle School.

Col. Chris Hadfield makes a point during his talk to students at École KLO Middle School.

The questions came fast and furious for Chris Hadfield, “Canada’s spaceman,” during two appearances in the Okanagan Monday as part of UBC’s Distinguished Speaker Series. He was greeted like a rock star, first at École KLO Middle School, where more than 600 students thundered their approval. The adulation continued again later, when Hadfield delivered his story of life in space, electrifying 800 people packed into the Kelowna Community Theatre and sparking a standing ovation.

Hadfield, who commanded the International Space Station (ISS) for five months earlier this year, became a global sensation for his videos, tweets and music from space. Audiences estimated in the millions worldwide followed Hadfield’s exploits as he displayed breathtaking photos of Earth and demonstrated vignettes of life in space, such as what happens when you wring out a washcloth in a weightless environment.

Hadfield is a master story teller. From describing some of the 200-plus experiments performed aboard the ISS during his command, to tales about his personal life – ambitions to be an astronaut from age nine – Hadfield engaged his audience with a spell-binding narrative and video presentation.

Asked about his music from space, where Hadfield co-wrote and recorded the song Is Somebody Singing with Ed Robertson of the Bare Naked Ladies, the retired astronaut said he found music relaxing and therapeutic. It also added a dimension to space exploration that Hadfield treasured.

“To bring the arts into space was really something special,” Hadfield said. “We need to remind ourselves of our own humanity, whether it’s on earth or in space.”

His most fascinating time in space? Going on spacewalks Hadfield said, is an incomparable experience.

The astronaut told a heart-felt story about his wife Helene and three children and the struggle to make ends meet early in his space career, starting in the 1980s when he joined the Canadian space program. Hadfield, an engineer and accomplished test pilot, decided he would abandon his pursuit of space for the relative comfort and lucrative pay as a commercial airline pilot.

Helene told him to forgo any such notion. Not pursuing his lifelong dream, the regrets would make him miserable – and in turn make his family miserable, the astronaut’s wife said. So pursue the dream and we will find a way to get by, she advised him. Without his family’s support, Hadfield said he would never have accomplished everything he did.

Hadfield’s appearance in the Okanagan in the Distinguished Speaker Series was sponsored by an endowment from the late Irving K. Barber, after whom UBC’s Okanagan campus School of Arts and Sciences is named.

Col. Chris Hadfield describes the Australian outback as seen from outer space.

Col. Chris Hadfield describes the Australian outback as seen from outer space – and captured in his photo from the International Space Station, during his Distinguished Speaker Series talk.

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In response to overwhelming demand for the UBC Distinguished Speaker Series talk with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield this Monday, the university has opened a lecture theatre to simulcast the live event.

Approximately 150 seats remain open for the simulcast event. Ticket registration is free online at: http://dss-hadfieldsimulcast.eventbrite.ca

The simulcast takes place at 7 p.m. Monday October 7 in the Charles E. Fipke Centre for Innovative Research, 3247 University Way, UBC’s Okanagan campus, Kelowna. Check-in for the event starts at 6 p.m.

Paid parking is available for $3 in campus parking lots E, F and G. Ticket dispensers accept coins, Visa and MasterCard.

A campus map can be viewed at: http://universityrelations.ok.ubc.ca/hadfieldparking.pdf

 

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