Researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP-USP) in Brazil have found that a cannabidiol (CBD) analog called PECS-101 may enhance chemotherapy and prevent neuropathic pain. Their study, which was recently published in Neurotherapeutics, showed that concomitant administration of PECS-101 with chemotherapy drugs in a murine model improved cancer treatment, led to no adverse effects, and did not cause dependence.
PECS-101 has a similar structure to CBD, but with the addition of fluoride, which the researchers say makes its 10 times more effective than CBD alone. The mechanism of action is primarily mediated via agonistic activity at peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ), and not via the body’s two endocannabinoid receptors. “Previous research had already shown that drugs that interact with PPARγ have anti-tumor and anti-neuropathy effects,” said Nicole Rodrigues da Silva, the article’s first author and a researcher in the Department of Pharmacology at FMRP-USP.
More specifically, the researchers examined the drug’s affects on PPARγ receptors in macrophages, which are white blood cells that play a vital role in the body’s immune system, serving as sentinels capable of neutralizing pathogens. Macrophage activity can lead to inflammation, which in turn can be experienced as pain. In the case of neuroinflammation, that can mean neuropathic pain. Researchers found that PECS-101’s activity at PPARγ receptors had an anti-inflammatory effect, and that this eased neuropathic pain.
Additionally, the researchers found that the CBD analog, when used in conjunction with the chemotherapy medication paclitaxel on female mice with induced breast cancer, did not interfere with the cancer treatment, but seemed to enhance it. “We confirmed this experiment by obtaining the same positive result in cultured human cells,” Silva said.
The full paper can be found here.