North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Phar­ma­ceu­tical Sci­ences pro­fessor and Center for Drug Dis­covery director Alexan­dros Makriyannis and a team of researchers have cre­ated a syn­thetic mol­e­cule that could be used to treat chronic pain in patients with dis­eases such as dia­betes or shingles.

The find­ings were pub­lished in a recent issue of Psy­chophar­ma­cology in an article titled “Dis­crim­i­na­tive stim­ulus func­tions in rats of AM1346, a high-​​affinity CB1R selec­tive anan­damide analog.” The team of researchers involved in this study included North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Phar­ma­ceu­tical Sci­ences research asso­ciate pro­fessor Tor­b­jorn U.C. Jarbe, as well as Chen Li and Qian Liu, for­merly of the Uni­ver­sity of Connecticut.

The new mol­e­cule, AM1346, mimics, though is more pow­erful than, anan­damide an endoge­nous cannabi­noid neu­ro­trans­mitter found promi­nently in the brains of humans and ani­mals. Anan­damide is a nat­u­rally occur­ring part of the endo­cannabi­noid system that reg­u­lates pain, con­trols heart rate and blood pres­sure, and mod­u­lates mood and appetite.

In order to test anan­damide against AM1346, the researchers studied dis­crim­i­na­tive behavior in rats and con­cluded that the ani­mals act in a sim­ilar fashion when injected with the two agents. Makriyannis said the rats were trained to respond to an injec­tion of AM1346 by pushing a lever that deliv­ered food to the ani­mals. When trained without expo­sure to AM1346, an alter­nate lever pro­duced food. Thus, the pres­ence or absence of the training drug con­trolled the choice behavior of the ani­mals. Addi­tion­ally, the cannabi­noid anti­dote rimon­a­bant blocked these drug effects. That is, the ani­mals selected the non­drug asso­ci­ated lever in tests with rimon­a­bant and the other drugs.

AM1346 is a more potent and stable syn­thetic com­pound than anan­damide,” Makriyannis said. “It will serve as a test com­pound to study and under­stand more com­pletely the endo­cannabi­noid system and could have poten­tial ther­a­peutic impli­ca­tions as a top­i­cally applied pain killer,” he said, adding that there is con­sid­er­able interest from the phar­ma­ceu­tical industry for researchers to dis­cover new med­ica­tions within the body’s bio­chem­ical system.

For more infor­ma­tion on Pro­fessor Makriyannis’ research, please con­tact Jason Korn­witz at 617–373-5729 or j.​kornwitz@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern
Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.