Promoting Natural Painkiller

  • Author: David Bradley
  • Published: 23 September 2010
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
  • Source / Publisher: Nature Neuroscience/Nature Publishing Group
thumbnail image: Promoting Natural Painkiller

Researchers in Italy and the US lead by Daniele Piomelli, University of California Irvine, have developed a new compound, URB937, that stimulates endogenous anandamide, a natural form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) known as the "bliss molecule". URB937 inhibits the breakdown of anandamide by the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Blocking FAAH activity enhances the effects of anandamide without generating the "high" seen with THC itself and could enable medical marijuana use.

This or a related compound might one day form the basis of potent pain relief that avoids the sedative and addiction side effects commonly seen with opiate painkillers such as morphine and diamorphine.

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