A new study suggests that chronic bladder diseases could be treated with drugs that act on the same pathways as marijuana.
Published last week in The Journal of Urology, the researchers were able to reduce many symptoms associated with bladder inflammation by treating mice with a drug that targets CB2 receptors of the urinary tract. CB2, along with CB1 receptors, are the two major pathways activated by chemicals in marijuana, known as cannabinoids.
The team, led by Dale Bjorling, DVM, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, concluded that targeting the CB2 receptor could lead the way to new treatments for painful bladder conditions.
“Our data indicate that CB2 receptor is a potential therapeutic target for treatment of painful inflammatory bladder diseases.”
Using mouse models of bladder inflammation (cystitis), the team conducted a variety of experiments, including pain and urinary measurements and tissue sampling. After treatment, the mice showed a reduction in inflammation and symptoms of pain and urinary frequency.
“We demonstrated that treatment with a selective CB2 agonist reduced the severity of established cystitis and reversed increased urinary frequency and referred mechanical hyperalgesia associated with cystitis.”
While more research needs to be done, the results are promising. According to the authors, “no treatment or combination of treatments has been found to be consistently effective in alleviating symptoms” of cystitis in patients.
Although the latest study did not investigate CB1 activity, an earlier study from Belgium suggests that CB1 receptors are also involved with the control of urination.
The study was published ahead of print and received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)