Thursday, January 04, 2007

ACG: Cannabinoid Activator Mellows Out Colon

Drugs that activate cannabinoid receptors in the colon might help treat lower GI conditions such as diarrhea or certain types of fecal incontinence, according to a proof-of-concept study presented here.
The study found that Marinol (dronabinol) significantly relaxed the colon in healthy volunteers who had consumed a 1,000-calorie chocolate milkshake, reported Tuba Esfandyari, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., at the American College of Gastroenterology meeting here.
The study is the first to demonstrate that the drug, a synthetic version of the natural compound delta-9-THC found in the marijuana plant, may also have beneficial effects in the lower colon, said co-author Michael Camilleri, M.D., also of the Mayo Clinic. Marinol is approved to treat nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite during chemotherapy.
In the double-blind, parallel-group study, 52 volunteers were randomly assigned to a single dose of 7.5 mg of Marinol or placebo. Thirty of the volunteers were women and 22 were men. Their average age was about 35.
Before taking Marinol, baseline measurements of colonic contraction and sensation were taken. These measurements were repeated one hour after taking the medication. Finally, the measurements were taken once again an hour after participants drank the milkshake.
Compared with placebo, the drug was associated with significant inhibition of postprandial colonic contractions (P=0.048) as well as a non-significant effect on fasting colonic contractions (P=0.096), the researchers reported.
The effect on colonic contraction was more pronounced in women than men, the researchers said, although data on the gender difference was not reported.
The drug also had an overall significant relaxing effect on the colon (P=0.045), the study found.
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