Researchers are developing a marijuana-derived synthetic compound for relieving pain and inflammation without the mood-altering side effects associated with other marijuana based drugs.
The researchers said the compound could improve treatment of a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. The findings were presented at the 224th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
The compound, known as ajulemic acid, has produced encouraging results in animal studies of pain and inflammation.
“We believe that [the compound] will replace aspirin and similar drugs in most applications primarily because of a lack of toxic side effects,” says Sumner Burstein, Ph.D., lead investigator in the study and a professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. “The indications so far are that it’s safe and effective,” he added.
No clinically adverse events were reported, including gastrointestinal ulcers, at a safety trial of the compound conducted in France last year among 15 healthy volunteers.
The compound was 10 to 50 times more potent in animal tests as a pain-killer than delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main mood-altering ingredient of marijuana. The compound could be a promising alternative to current drugs used to treat arthritis, such as COX-2 inhibitors.
Drug relieves muscle stiffness (spasticity) associated with the disease, just as natural marijuana has been shown to have a similar effect, according to tests of multiple sclerosis (MS) in rats.
“Some people want the high,” admits Burstein. “But the medical community wants efficacy without this effect.”
American Chemical Society (2002, August 23)