A new research suggests that fenofibrate, a common drug used to control cholesterol levels in patients, activates the same receptors as cannabis and may become a viable treatment option for relieving pain, stimulating appetite, reducing nausea and preventing depression.
These are the benefits of medical marijuana without the "unwanted side effects" of cannabis. "By illustrating the relationship between fenofibrate and the cannabinoid system, we aim to improve our understanding of this clinically important drug," said Dr. Richard S. Priestley from the University of Nottingham, England.
According to the research report published in the FASEB
Journal, fenofibrate may benefit a wide range of health issues, such as appetite stimulation, pain and nausea control, as well as immune and various psychiatric and neurological conditions. This suggests that fenofibrate may be the starting point for a new class of cannabis-like drugs to treat these types of conditions.
"Our study provides the basis for the investigation of new drugs targeting these important receptors," Priestley said.
To make this discovery, Priestly and colleagues cultured cells containing cannabinoid receptors and exposed them to a tracer compound, which binds to cannabinoid receptors. They found that fenofibrate was able to displace the tracer, suggesting that it also binds to the receptors.
Furthermore, they discovered that fenofibrate actually switched the cannabinoid receptors "on", not only in these cells, but also in sections of intestine. This led to the relaxation of the tissue in a way that mimicked what marijuana does.
Despite the fact that fenofibrate has been used for many years, and its mechanism of action was presumed to be through a completely different family of receptors, this suggests that at least some of the effects of fenofibrate may be controlled by cannabinoid receptors.
Furthermore, these cannabinoid receptors may be a future target for drugs used to treat pain and a variety of immune and psychiatric diseases.