Pubdate: Sun, 25 Aug 2002
Source: Augusta Chronicle, The (GA)
Copyright: 2002 The Augusta Chronicle
Note: Does not publishing letters from outside of the immediate Georgia and 
South Carolina circulation area
Author: Andre Picard, Scripps Howard News Service


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, said the drug, called ajulemic 
acid, could improve the 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."

Burstein presented the findings Wednesday at the American Chemical Society 
meeting in Boston.

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, 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 The findings have not been peer reviewed, so could be 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 painkiller. People who took the drug 
did not experience any of the mood-altering effects usually associated with 

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 

To date, only one marijuana-derived drug has been approved in the United 
States. Marinol is prescribed as an appetite stimulant for people with 
HIV-AIDS and those suffering from nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy.
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