- Bioactivity-directed exploration of the phytocannabinoid chemical space



Funding body
PRIN 2017
122.930 €

Departments and Centres



Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences


Working group

Alberto Minassi
Federica Pollastro
Diego Caprioglio

Project duration

Start date
End date

Phytocannabinoids, a class of over 200 meroterpenoids, show a surprising diversity of macromolecule targets and qualify as privileged structure for biomedical research.
However, their chemical and biological space has so far been systematically investigated only around the so-called “big 4”, that is, the major non-native (decarboxylated) constituents of the plant (delta9-THC, CBD, CBG and CBD), and mostly in the context of a single end-point (CB1).
Capitalizing on the increased availability of cannabinoids by isolation (strain selection, advances in separation techniques) and synthesis, the chemical and biological space around the native forms of phytocannabinoids and a selection of minor analogues representative of the biosynthetic exuberance of Cannabis will be systematically explored, focusing on targets of relevance for the non-narcotic modulation of the endocannabinoid system and the identification of novel end-points.

Based on these results, environmental issues associated to the increased human exposure to phytocannabinoids secondary to changes in Cannabis legislation will be investigated, focusing on the pyrolytic generation of narcotic phytocannabinoids from non-narcotic ones, and the effect of an increased aquatic burden of Cannabis-related compounds on fish.

The other partners involved are the University of Naples Federico II, the University of Salerno, and the Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, CNR, Pozzuoli.