New cannabis-like drugs could block pain without affecting brain, says study

By chillinwill · Sep 13, 2008 · ·
  1. chillinwill

    The research demonstrates for the first time that cannabinoid receptors called CB2, which can be activated by cannabis use, are present in human sensory nerves in the peripheral nervous system, but are not present in a normal human brain.

    Drugs which activate the CB2 receptors are able to block pain by stopping pain signals being transmitted in human sensory nerves, according to the study, led by researchers from Imperial College London.

    Previous studies have mainly focused on the other receptor activated by cannabis use, known as CB1, which was believed to be the primary receptor involved in pain relief. However, as CB1 receptors are found in the brain, taking drugs which activate these receptors can lead to side-effects, such as drowsiness, dependence and psychosis, and also recreational abuse.

    The new research indicates that drugs targeting CB2 receptors offer a new way of treating pain in clinical conditions where there are currently few effective or safe treatments, such as chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis and pain from nerve damage. It could also provide an alternative treatment for acute pain, such as that experienced following surgical operations.

    The new study showed that CB2 receptors work to block pain with a mechanism similar to the one which opiate receptors use when activated by the powerful painkilling drug morphine. They hope that drugs which target CB2 might provide an alternative to morphine, which can have serious side effects such as dependency, nausea and vomiting.

    Praveen Anand, Professor of Clinical Neurology and Principal Investigator of the study from the Division of Neurosciences and Mental Health at Imperial College London, said: "Although cannabis is probably best known as an illegal recreational drug, people have used it for medicinal purposes for centuries. Queen Victoria used it in tea to help with her period pains, and people with a variety of conditions say that it helps alleviate their symptoms.

    "Our new study is very promising because it suggests that we could alleviate pain by targeting the cannabinoid receptor CB2 without causing the kinds of side-effects we associate with people using cannabis itself."

    The researchers reached their conclusions after studying human sensory nerve cells in culture with CB2 receptor compounds provided by GlaxoSmithKline, and also injured nerves from patients with chronic pain.

    The researchers are now planning to conduct clinical trials of drugs which target CB2 in patients with chronic pain at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which has integrated with Imperial College London to form the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre.

    Source: Imperial College London

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  1. Alfa
    They used naloxone as a CB1 antagonist.
  2. Sippin40oz
    All very impressive and all but why not just let the people in pain just use cannabis?! Surely all this money spent on research could be used feeding african children or curing cancer instead of trying to reinvent cannabis without the fun parts in it? Just seems like a massive waste of time and effort when there is a perfectly good drug already freely available!!!
  3. Matt The Funk
    I see how this could be helpful for people who aren't looking to receive certain side-effects but still want relief. We could be doing lots of different things with our resources and money, but we can't control minds yet...or can we?
  4. Shampoo
    By medical standards, cannabis is less than what most would call a 'good' drug. It certainly works, and for many ailments as well, but it has a massive side effect profile. Not all people in pain, or with other disorders that may be alleviated with the use of cannabis can go about their daily business 'stoned'. For many medical patients, the ED for the ailment happens to come with a sufficient buzz at the least, and for most with a real 'high' or stoned feeling. How is one expected to go to work, classes, and attend other important events under the influence of cannabis?

    Cannabis stimulates a series of receptors, some of which are very effective at relieving pain, nausea, inducing inspired appetite and relieving ocular pressure. If those receptors can be selectively activated without the side-effects of 'getting high', cannabis will have yielded a truly good medicine. Until then, there are more effective medications for nearly all disorders that cannabis is used to treat.

    This is not to say that it cannot be used effectively and responsibly, but in terms of quality medication, its high side-effect profile excludes it from being considered a 'good' medicine or viable for real prescription use under the current guidelines of medical practice.
  5. RoboCodeine7610
    swim definetely agress...
  6. elpatto
    Well that is great news I guess. Realy, I can't ever find myself jumping on the "Medicinal marijuana bandwagon", purely because there is many drugs in existance that have much more potent positive effects of cannibus without the high or altered consciousness (Sp). If one realy believes that consuming something will not harm others or themselves too much, they should be able to. I realize that the full legalization of cannibus is far, far away, but people shouldn't mask their want to consume something as a medical cure.

    That said, I think anyone seriosly ill should be able to use any means at their disposal to reduce their pain and suffering, both physical and mental.
  7. enquirewithin
    Because drug companies can't copyright cannabis and overcharge for it.
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