Researchers have discovered a new drug that raises the level of endocannabinoids--the brains own cannabis--providing anti-depressant effects. The new research published in this weeks Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggests the new drug, called URB597, could represent a safer alternative to cannabis for the treatment of pain and depression, and open the door to new and improved treatments for clinical depression--a condition that affects around 20% of Canadians.
In preclinical laboratory tests researchers found that URB597 increased the production of endocannabinoids by blocking their degradation, resulting in measurable antidepressant effects. "This is the first time it has been shown that a drug that increases endocannabinoids in the brain can improve your mood," says the lead investigator Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, an MUHC and Université de Montréal researcher.
Endocannabinoids are chemicals released by the brain under certain conditions, like exercise; they stimulate specific brain receptors that can trigger feelings of well-being. The researchers, which included scientists from the University of California at Irvine, were able to measure serotonin and noradrenaline activity as a result of the increased endocannabinoids, and also conducted standard experiments to gauge the mood of their subjects and confirm their findings.
Ian Popple | EurekAlert!
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