Dr. Lawrence Marnett, director of the Vanderbilt University Institute of Chemical Biology and Dr. Sachin Patel at Vanderbilt University Medical Center reported the first successful synthetically modified cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor as a treatment for anxiety.
The synthetic anxiety medication works by activating the natural endocannabinoid reaction in the brain. Endocannabinoids are naturally produced pain relief and anxiety reduction compounds that have a similar chemical structure to the active compounds in marijuana.
The application of selective modification of the COX-2 system to be specific to the chemical structure of a specific disease or to the area of activity of a disease offers a new potential for treatment of a variety of ailments involving pain, movement disorders, and colon cancer without the side effects of present treatments.
The selective capacity of the new treatment avoids the production of prostaglandins that can cause cardiovascular and gastrointestinal side effects. The most common pain relief medications used today are aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs produce the common side effects that the chemical specificity of the new treatment can avoid.
The first study of this approach was successful in rat studies without producing side effects. Clinical trials in humans are planned.