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.
- Anandamide suppresses pain initiation through a peripheral endocannabinoid mechanism
J. R Clapper, G. Moreno-Sanz, R. Russo, A. Guijarro, F. Vacondio et al.,
Nature Neurosci. 2010, 13.