New research in mice suggests that THC may help with transplants by “delaying the rejection of incompatible organs.” While more research is needed, the study suggests that THC may be a useful anti-rejection therapy for humans, especially in operations where transplanted organs aren’t a perfect match.

The findings were published in the September 2015 issue of The Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

“We are excited to demonstrate for the first time that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in the prolongation of rejection of a foreign graft by suppressing immune response in the recipient, said Mitzi Nagarkatti, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. “This opens up a new area of research that would lead to better approaches to prevent transplant rejection as well as to treat other inflammatory diseases.”

“More and more research is identifying potential beneficial effects of substances contained in marijuana, but a major challenge has been identifying the molecular pathways involved,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “These new studies point to important roles for the cannabinoid receptors as targets that might be exploited using approaches that refine how we think about substances derived from marijuana.”