Multiple Sclerosis Blog
By Julie Stachowiak, Ph.D., About.com Guide to Multiple Sclerosis
Tuesday May 19, 2009
The NIH has granted Temple University researchers $1.5 million to test a laboratory-made version of cannabinoids for slowing the progress of multiple sclerosis. Cannabinoids are found in nature in the marijuana plant. Researchers believe that this class of chemicals can create immune suppression, which just might help in multiple sclerosis. Much like steroids (but with fewer side effects and much more selectively), cannabinoids can “switch off” a portion of the immune response and bring down inflammation and “hyperactivity” of immune cells, possibly preventing (or slowing) some of the damage caused to the myelin by immune cells. It does this by interacting with the receptors on specific immune cells.Temple researchers have synthesized a compound that has this calming effect on the immune system without any of the psychoactive effects that are associated with marijuana. This four-year research project begins this summer. If successful, this could be a lovely addition to potential MS treatments (though I say this with caution, as preliminary research is just now being done).