Brain’s cannabis receptors could be used to treat chronic pain with a new compound
A new chronic pain treatment without opioid or medical marijuana side effects could be developed by US experts, a team reported at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.
“The most exciting aspect of this research is the potential to produce the same therapeutic benefits as opioid-based pain relievers without side effects like addiction risk or increased tolerance over time,” explains Prof Andrea Hohmann, who is involved in the research.
The study found that chronic pain in mice was reduced by compounds called positive allosteric modulators (PAMs). They
regulate the activity of the brain’s receptors for the main psychoactive compound in marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol) and natural pain relieving compounds released by the brain (endocannabinoids).
PAMs work by binding to a recently discovered site on a cannabinoid receptor in the brain. And they keep working over time, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol and endocannabinoid breakdown inhibitors, which stop working with repeated dosing.
“We found that the compound did not produce reward on its own, so it’s unlikely that a PAM would be abused as a recreational drug,” Prof Hohmann added. “Our studies show that we can maintain or preserve therapeutic efficacy in ways that we haven’t seen with some of the other classes of [pain killer] that are used in the clinic.”
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