GSK's cannabinoid drugs may block pain sans side effects

Drugs that activate the cannabinoid receptors CB2 are able to block pain by interrupting the flow of pain signals through the sensory system, according to researchers in the UK. Up until now, much of the research in the field has centered on the CB1 receptor. But drugs that work for those receptors are also likely to trigger drowsiness and drug abuse. Researchers say that the CB2 drugs could work without affecting the brain and may replace morphine, which has frequently been abused. The research focused on CB2 drugs being developed by GlaxoSmithKline.

"Although cannabis is probably best known as an illegal recreational drug, people have used it for medicinal purposes for centuries," Praveen Anand, professor of clinical neurology at Imperial College London. "Queen Victoria used it in tea to help with her period pains, and people with a variety of conditions say that it helps alleviate their symptoms. Our new study is very promising because it suggests that we could alleviate pain by targeting the cannabinoid receptor CB2 without causing the kinds of side-effects we associate with people using cannabis itself."

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