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Harnessing the human body’s natural analgesic for pain relief

Tags: Neuroscience

Anandamide is a natural, marijuana-like lipid derivative produced in the human body that provides pain relief. As an endocannabinoid, it binds and activates G protein–coupled cannabinoid receptors (CB) as well as several other targets, both within the plasma membrane and intracellularly . Dr. Daniele Piomelli from the University of California, Irvine and colleagues recently reported upon a new approach to enhance the effects of anandamide (Fu et al (2011) Nat Neurosci. 15(1):64-9). The international research team identified a protein in brain cells, referred to as FAAH-like anandamide transporter (FLAT), that ferries anandamide to sites within the cell, where upon it is enzymatically degraded by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzymes to ethanolamine and arachidonic acid. Inhibiting this transporter protein’s function increases anandamide's potency. It is hoped that compounds enhancing anandamide's potency might eventually form the basis of new analgesics, free from common side-effects encountered with existing pain medications, such as sedation or addiction. Inhibiting FLAT may be especially valuable in the control of certain types of pain arising from damage to the central nervous system, as well as in decreasing addiction to various drugs, like nicotine, cocaine and opiates.

Enzo Life Sciences offers a comprehensive portfolio of ligands and inhibitors relevant to the endocannabinoid pathway, as well as antibodies to cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2, and GPR55). .

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