Switching Off Pain: Modeling relief on the action of marijuana | Science News


Support Science Journalism

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Switching Off Pain: Modeling relief on the action of marijuana

11:01am, August 13, 2003

Scientists have long known that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, is an effective painkiller. But THC's kaleidoscopic effects, including sedation, giddiness, and paranoia, limit its use in medicine. Now, researchers have fabricated a drug that alleviates pain through a mechanism similar to that of THC, but without the side effects.

The drug, dubbed AM1241, binds to one of the two types of cannabinoid receptors in the body. These protein-based switches, which sit on a cell's exterior, respond primarily to THC.

In tests with rats, the researchers targeted an ailment known as neuropathic pain. Often severe and disabling, this pain differs from the central nervous system's alarm-raising response to injury or inflammation. Animals feel neuropathic pain when the central nervous system itself goes awry. As a result, it can radiate pain signals without any stimulus or cause hypersensitivity to stimuli that would not otherwise be painful–even

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content