New Antidepressant Drug Candidate Increase Brain Endocannabinoids


Although anecdotal reports suggest that cannabis may be used to alleviate symptoms of depression, the psychotropic effects and abuse liability of this drug prevent its therapeutic application. The active constituent of cannabis, {Delta}9-tetrahydrocannabinol, acts by binding to brain CB1 cannabinoid receptors, but an alternative approach might be to develop agents that amplify the actions of endogenous cannabinoids by blocking their deactivation.

Scientists from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the Universit� de Montr�al have shown in rats how a new drug, designated as URB597 can exhibit anti-depressant-like effects. By inhibiting an enzyme called fatty-acid amide hydrolase, URB597 is in effect, increasing the concentrations of endogenous cannabinoids by protecting them against degradation, subsequently resulting to imporoved mood.

“The results were similar to the effect we might expect from the use of commonly prescribed antidepressants, which are effective on only around 30% of the population,” explains Dr. Gobbi. “Our discovery strengthens the case for URB597 as a safer, non-addictive, non-psychotropic alternative to cannabis for the treatment of pain and depression and provides hope for the development of an alternate line of antidepressants, with a wider range of effectiveness.”

Source: MUHC


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