High hopes for new marijuana drug

Marijuana

“Researchers have developed a synthetic compound which gives the benefits of marijuana without the high.

US 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.

Professor Sumner Burstein, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, presented his team’s findings at last week’s national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

He is hopeful about the potential of the synthetic compound to treat a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis.

The synthetic compound is called ajulemic acid, and has a formula based on that of THC. It has already produced encouraging results in animal studies of pain and inflammation, and is currently being tested on humans.

Exactly how ajulemic acid works is still under investigation but it appears to suppress chemical mediators, such as prostaglandins and cytokines, known to cause inflammation.

“We believe the compound will replace aspirin and similar drugs in most applications because of its lack of toxic side effects”, said Professor Burstein, referring to extensive animal studies, as well as a safety trial of the compound conducted in France last year among 15 healthy volunteers.

No clinically adverse effects were reported, including gastrointestinal ulcers, which have been associated with other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compounds such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

But most significantly, no mood-altering side effects were reported. With an increasing number of medically beneficial compounds being found in marijuana, such as THC and CBD, researchers have been searching for years for ways to utilise these therapeutically without their associated “high”. They have had little success until now.

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

As well as animal studies of their own that show the compound is as potent a painkiller as morphine, Professor Burstein notes other promising animal studies that have been published. In rodent models of rheumatoid arthritis, the compound prevented joint damage. Tests of MS in rats showed the drug relieves muscle stiffness associated with the disease.

It is now undergoing tests in Germany in a group of 21 patients with chronic pain who take ajulemic acid orally twice daily, in capsule form.

Depending on these results, which will be available in about six weeks, the researchers predict the synthetic compound could be on offer by prescription within two years.

It could also be a promising alternative to current drugs used to treat arthritis, such as COX-2 inhibitors. These have been linked to adverse side effects, including heart attacks and stroke.”

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2002/08/26/656786.htm?fb_action_ids=460011707368809&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

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Cannabis drug ‘fights pain without high’

   “Scientists have developed a cannabis-based medicine which relieves chronic pain without any of the “high” normally associated with the drug.

They believe the discovery could pave the way for cannabis-based medication to become available by prescription within two years.

Much of the controversy surrounding the medicinal use of cannabis has centred on fears that it would be used solely for its mood-altering effects.

However, scientists at the University of Massachusetts in the United States say their discovery should help authorities to overcome these fears.

Dr Sumner Burstein and colleagues say early trials of the medication in animals and healthy patients have been promising.

The medication, called ajulemic acid or CT3, has been manufactured in laboratories.

It maximises the medicinal effects of tertrahydrocannabinol – the key ingredient of cannabis – without any of the mind-altering effects.

‘More effective’

In animal tests, this compound was found to be between 10 to 50 times more effective at reducing pain than tetrahydrocannabinol.

Those tests showed that ajulemic acid was very effective at preventing the joint damage associated with arthritis and relieving the muscle stiffness associated with multiple sclerosis.”

Read more: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2207478.stm

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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, including 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.”

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020822071026.htm

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Suppression of human monocyte interleukin-1beta production by ajulemic acid, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid.

Abstract

   “Oral administration of ajulemic acid (AjA), a cannabinoid acid devoid of psychoactivity, reduces joint tissue damage in rats with adjuvant arthritis. Because interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) are central to the progression of inflammation and joint tissue injury in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, we investigated human monocyte IL-1beta and TNFalpha responses after the addition of AjA to cells in vitro… Reduction of IL-1beta by AjA may help explain the therapeutic effects of AjA in the animal model of arthritis. Development of nonpsychoactive therapeutically useful synthetic analogs of Cannabis constituents, such as AjA, may help resolve the ongoing debate about the use of marijuana as medicine.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12566094

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Ajulemic acid, a synthetic cannabinoid acid, induces an antiinflammatory profile of eicosanoids in human synovial cells.

“AIMS:

To better understand mechanisms whereby Ajulemic acid (AjA), a synthetic antiinflammatory cannabinoid, promotes resolution of acute and chronic inflammation in animal models, we investigated its influence on cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2) expression and eicosanoid production in human fibroblast-like synovial cells (FLS).”

“KEY FINDINGS:

AjA increased the steady state levels of COX2 mRNA in and arachidonic acid release from FLS. Treatment of FLS with AjA increased 15-deoxy-delta(12,14)-PGJ(2) (15d-PGJ(2)) production in a concentration dependent manner, but did not affect PGE(2) production significantly.”

“SIGNIFICANCE:

The capacity of AjA to increase selectively and markedly 15d-PGJ(2), an eicosanoid which facilitates resolution of inflammation, suggests that AjA may have value as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other diseases characterized by acute and chronic inflammation.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18840450

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Suppression of fibroblast metalloproteinases by ajulemic acid, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid acid.

Abstract

   “Production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) in joint tissue of patients with inflammatory arthritis facilitates cartilage degradation and bone erosion, and leads to joint deformities and crippling. Thus, MMPs are important targets for agents designed to treat inflammatory arthritis. Oral administration of ajulemic acid (AjA), a synthetic, nonpsychoactive cannabinoid acid, prevents joint tissue injury in rats with adjuvant arthritis. AjA binds to and activates PPARgamma directly. Therefore, we investigated the influence of AjA on MMP production in human fibroblast-like synovial cells (FLS), and examined the role of PPARgamma in the mechanism of action of AjA. FLS, treated or not with a PPARgamma antagonist, were treated with AjA then stimulated with TNFalpha or IL-1alpha. Release of MMPs-1, 3, and 9 was measured by ELISA. The influence of AjA on MMP-3 release from stimulated PPARgamma positive (PPAR+/-) and PPARgamma null (PPAR-/-) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) was also examined. Addition of AjA to FLS suppressed production of MMPs whether or not PPARgamma activation was blocked. Secretion of MMP-3 was also suppressed by AjA in both TNFalpha- and IL-1alpha-stimulated PPARgamma+/- and PPARgamma-/- MEF. Suppression of MMP secretion from FLS by AjA appears to be PPARgamma independent. Prevention by AjA of joint tissue injury and crippling in the rat adjuvant arthritis model may be explained in large part by inhibition of MMPs. These results suggest that AjA may be useful for treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16927387

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Synthetic cannabinoid ajulemic acid exerts potent antifibrotic effects in experimental models of systemic sclerosis.

BMJ Journals

“Cannabinoids modulate fibrogenesis in scleroderma.

Ajulemic acid (AjA) is a non-psychoactive synthetic analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol that can bind the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ). Recent evidence suggests a key role for PPAR-γ in fibrogenesis. To determine whether AjA can modulate fibrogenesis in murine models of scleroderma.”

“RESULTS:

AjA significantly prevented experimental bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis and modestly reduced its progression when started 3 weeks into the disease. AjA strongly reduced collagen neosynthesis by scleroderma fibroblasts in vitro, an action which was reversed completely by co-treatment with a selective PPAR-γ antagonist.”

“CONCLUSIONS:

AjA prevents progression of fibrosis in vivo and inhibits fibrogenesis in vitro by stimulating PPAR-γ signalling. Since therapeutic doses of AjA are well tolerated in humans, it is suggested that AjA as an interesting molecule targeting fibrosis in patients with scleroderma.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22492781

http://ard.bmj.com/content/71/9/1545

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Antitumor effects of ajulemic acid (CT3), a synthetic non-psychoactive cannabinoid.

Abstract

   “One of the endogenous transformation products of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is THC-11-oic acid, and ajulemic acid (AJA; dimethylheptyl-THC-11-oic acid) is a side-chain synthetic analog of THC-11-oic acid. In preclinical studies, AJA has been found to be a potent anti-inflammatory agent without psychoactive properties. Based on recent reports suggesting antitumor effects of cannabinoids (CBs), we assessed the potential of AJA as an antitumor agent. AJA proved to be approximately one-half as potent as THC in inhibiting tumor growth in vitro against a variety of neoplastic cell lines. However, its in vitro effects lasted longer. The antitumor effect was stereospecific, suggesting receptor mediation. Unlike THC, however, whose effect was blocked by both CB(1) and CB(2) receptor antagonists, the effect of AJA was inhibited by only the CB(2) antagonist. Additionally, incubation of C6 glioma cells with AJA resulted in the formation of lipid droplets, the number of which increased over time; this effect was noted to a much greater extent after AJA than after THC and was not seen in WI-38 cells, a human normal fibroblast cell line. Analysis of incorporation of radiolabeled fatty acids revealed a marked accumulation of triglycerides in AJA-treated cells at concentrations that produced tumor growth inhibition. Finally, AJA, administered p.o. to nude mice at a dosage several orders of magnitude below that which produces toxicity, inhibited the growth of subcutaneously implanted U87 human glioma cells modestly but significantly. We conclude that AJA acts to produce significant antitumor activity and effects its actions primarily via CB(2) receptors. Its very favorable toxicity profile, including lack of psychoactivity, makes it suitable for chronic usage. Further studies are warranted to determine its optimal role as an antitumor agent.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11551521

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Ajulemic Acid, a Synthetic Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoid Acid, Bound to the Ligand Binding Domain of the Human Peroxisome Proliferator-activated Receptor γ*

  “Ajulemic acid (AJA) is a synthetic analog of THC-11-oic acid, a metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major active ingredient of the recreational drug marijuana derived from the plant Cannabis sativa. AJA has potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity in vivo, but without the psychotropic action of THC. However, its precise mechanism of action remains unknown. Biochemical studies indicate that AJA binds directly and selectively to the isotype γ of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPARγ) suggesting that this may be a pharmacologically relevant receptor for this compound and a potential target for drug development in the treatment of pain and inflammation. Here, we report the crystal structure of the ligand binding domain of the γ isotype of human PPAR in complex with ajulemic acid, determined at 2.8-Å resolution. Our results show a binding mode that is compatible with other known partial agonists of PPAR, explaining their moderate activation of the receptor, as well as the structural basis for isotype selectivity, as observed previously in vitro. The structure also provides clues to the understanding of partial agonism itself, suggesting a rational approach to the design of molecules capable of activating the receptor at levels that avoid undesirable side effects.”

“AJA (also known as CT-3, IP-751, or 1′,1′-dimethylheptyl-Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol-11-oic acid) was originally designed based on observations of the metabolic transformations of THC using the metabolite THC-11-oic acid as a template. AJA suppresses neuropathic pain in humans and prevents joint tissue injury in rat models of inflammatory arthritis. In all cases, these effects are observed without producing the motor side effects associated with THC.”

“In summary, our results show that AJA, as well as other THC analogs, in presenting specific binding together with minimal toxicity and good bioavailability may provide useful novel templates for rational drug design aimed at PPARγ regulation.”

 http://www.jbc.org/content/282/25/18625.long

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Effect of the cannabinoid ajulemic acid on rat models of neuropathic and inflammatory pain.

Abstract

   “There is increasing evidence that cannabinoid agonists alleviate the abnormal pain sensations associated with animal models of neuropathic and inflammatory pain. However, cannabinoids produce a number of motor and psychotropic side effects. In the present study we found that systemic administration of the cannabinoid acid derivative 1′,1′-dimethylheptyl-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-11-oic acid (ajulemic acid, IP-751) and the non-selective cannabinoid receptor agonist HU-210 reduced mechanical allodynia in a nerve-injury induced model of neuropathic pain and in the CFA-induced model of inflammatory pain. In contrast, HU-210, but not ajulemic acid reduced motor performance in the rotarod test. These findings suggest that ajulemic acid reduces abnormal pain sensations associated with chronic pain without producing the motor side effects associated with THC and other non-selective cannabinoid receptor agonists.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15925096

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