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Cannabis-like Drugs May Help Bowel Disease

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Health & Medical News - Cannabis-like drugs may help bowel disease - 15/08/2005

http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/health/...ish_1437679.htm]

Cannabis-like drugs may help bowel disease

Reuters

Monday, 15 August 2005

Derivatives of the active compound in cannabis may one day treat inflammatory bowel diseases, new research suggests.

In preliminary laboratory experiments published in the latest issue of the journal Gastroenterology, UK scientists show that cannabinoids prompt gut cells to repair themselves.

And as gut damage is central to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, this early work may pave the way to using cannabinoid drugs to treat these conditions.

"Cannabinoids, which we make ourselves, as well as synthetic cannabinoids, can promote wound healing in the gut, which is extremely interesting given that inflammatory bowel disease involves damaged gut linings," says lead researcher Dr Karen Wright, of the University of Bath.

Wright and her colleagues found cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in human colon tissue.

They then used human colon cell lines to investigate the binding of cannabinoid compounds and in wound-healing experiments.

The team found that CB2 was increased in colonic tissue characteristic of inflammatory bowel disease.

And cannabinoids enhanced surface wound closure via mechanisms involving the CB1 receptor.

"The system that responds to cannabis in the brain is present and functioning in the lining of the gut," says Wright.

"There is an increased presence of one component of this system during inflammatory bowel diseases."

Although results are not available yet, she adds, studies of cannabinoids' role in gut disorders are taking place in the UK and a clinical trial is being conducted in Germany.

For more information about gut problems, including symptoms and therapies, see the Gastroenterological Society of Australia's website.

with ABC Science Online

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