Pubdate: Thu, 22 Aug 2002
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2002, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Andre Picard


U.S. researchers say they have derived a drug from marijuana that relieves 
pain without the mood-altering, giggle-inducing side effects.

And you don't need to roll it and smoke it, either.

Sumner Burstein, a professor of molecular pharmacology at the University of 
Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., said the drug, called 
ajulemic acid, could improve treatment of a variety of conditions, 
including chronic pain, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. "We believe that 
ajulemic acid will replace Aspirin and similar drugs in most applications 
primarily because of a lack of toxic side effects," he said.

"The indications so far are that it's safe and effective."

Dr. Burstein presented the findings yesterday at the American Chemical 
Society meeting in Boston, the world's largest scientific conference.

To date, most of the research looking at the drug's ability to control pain 
and inflammation has been done on animals. Ajulemic acid is also called CT-3.

Two human trials, involving only 35 patients, have been conducted, but 
results are not yet available, Dr. Burstein told the conference. The 
findings have not been peer reviewed, so could be viewed with some skepticism.

The principal pain-killing compound in marijuana is 
delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); but THC is also what makes pot smokers 

Ajulemic acid is a synthetic derivative of THC. In animal tests, it was up 
to 50 times more potent than THC as a pain-killer. People who took the drug 
did not experience any of the mood-altering effects usually associated with 

Dr. Burstein said the new compound is far more potent than Aspirin and 
ibuprofen, but does not appear to have the same side effects, namely 
gastrointestinal problems.

With an increasing number of medically beneficial compounds being found in 
marijuana, researchers have been searching for years for ways to use these 
compounds therapeutically without the associated high. They have had little 
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens