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Drugs Related to Cannabis Have Pain-Relieving Potential for OA

Cannabinoid receptor found in spinal cord (January 6)

Chemical compounds synthesized in the laboratory, similar to those found in cannabis, could be developed as potential drugs to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis (OA).

These compounds could also reduce joint inflammation, according to new research conducted in the U.K.

Cannabis contains a number of natural chemicals called cannabinoids, and the brain has the ability to respond to such compounds. Cannabis and synthetically manufactured cannabinoid compounds can relieve pain in animal models of arthritis, but their use has been limited because of undesirable psychological side effects.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have shown that selectively targeting one of the molecules involved in the body’s natural pain-sensing pathways, called the cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2), can also reduce pain in animal models of OA.

The compound used in this study, JWH133, is a synthetic cannabinoid molecule manufactured in a laboratory and is not derived from the cannabis plant.

When the research was extended to humans, studies of spinal-cord tissue showed for the first time that CB2 was present in this tissue and that the amount of receptor was related to the severity of the OA. According to the investigators, these findings provide evidence from patients that this drug target may have clinical relevance to OA pain.

The research was published online in PLOS One.

Source: University of Nottingham; January 6, 2013.

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