Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Marijuana-derived compound targets pain, inflammation


Researchers are developing a marijuana-derived synthetic compound to relieve pain and inflammation without the mood-altering side effects associated with other marijuana based drugs.

They say the compound could improve treatment of a variety of conditions, inctluding chronic pain, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Their findings were presented at the 224th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

The compound, called ajulemic acid, has produced encouraging results in animal studies of pain and inflammation. It is undergoing tests in a group of people with chronic pain and could be available by prescription within two to three years, the researchers say.

"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.

At a safety trial of the compound conducted in France last year among 15 healthy volunteers, no clinically adverse events were reported, including gastrointestinal ulcers, which have been associated with other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compounds such as aspirin and ibuprofen. No mood-altering effects were reported, Burstein said.

Ajulemic acid is being tested in Germany among a group of 21 patients with chronic severe pain. Results are not yet available.

In animal tests, the compound was 10 to 50 times more potent as a pain-killer than delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main mood-altering ingredient of marijuana. Laboratory studies indicate that the compound, a synthetic derivative of THC, is more potent than aspirin and ibuprofen, says Burstein.

In rodent models of rheumatoid arthritis, the compound prevented joint damage associated with the disease. It could be a promising alternative to current drugs used to treat arthritis, such as COX-2 inhibitors, the researcher says. These compounds have been linked to adverse side effects, including heart attacks and stroke.

Tests of multiple sclerosis (MS) in rats have shown that the drug relieves muscle stiffness (spasticity) associated with the disease, just as natural marijuana has been shown to have a similar effect. Human studies of the drug’s effect on MS are planned.

Other evidence suggests the compound could slow the spread of cancer cells and prolong survival in mice with brain tumors. The U.S. Army is evaluating it as a topical drug to relieve the blistering effects of sulfur mustard gas.

How it works is still under investigation. The compound appears to suppress chemical mediators, such as prostaglandins and cytokines, which are known to cause inflammation, the researcher says.

With an increasing number of medically beneficial compounds being found in marijuana, researchers have been searching for years for ways to utilize these compounds therapeutically without its associated "high." They have had little success, until now.

Marinol®, the only FDA-approved, marijuana-derived drug, is available by prescription as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients and for fighting nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy. But this drug, which is also a synthetic derivative of THC, has been reported to cause a "high" in some patients.

"Some people want the high," admits Burstein. "But the medical community wants efficacy without this effect."

The original discovery of ajulemic acid was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Indevus Pharmaceuticals, based in Lexington, Mass., is developing the drug itself under the name CT-3. Burstein owns patents on ajulemic acid.

The poster on this research, MEDI 333, will be presented at 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the Hynes Convention Center, Hall B, during a general poster session.

Sumner H. Burstein, Ph.D., is a professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass.

— Mark T. Sampson

Charmayne Marsh | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>