The Hidden Link Between Obesity and Marijuana

Marijuana's uncanny ability to make us feel hungry has long intrigued the medical community. Currently, many states allow marijuana to be prescribed for its therapeutic benefits, especially for patients who have trouble drumming up an appetite.

The link between marijuana use and appetite has also informed us about potential ways to treat the growing obesity epidemic. And this particular use of marijuana may surprise you.

Cannabinoid receptors as an anti-obesity drug target
Because of the link between appetite and the cannabinoid receptor system, clinicians have been attempting to exploit it as a way to combat the growing obesity epidemic. The idea is simple enough: Create a drug that acts as an antagonist for the cannabinoid receptors in our brain, causing us to feel full instead of hungry.

Source: Sanofi.

While the concept is straightforward in theory, its application in the real world has proved difficult. In 2008, the French drugmaker Sanofi (NYSE: SNY  ) pulled its cannabinoid antagonist Acomplia in Europe after the drug was found to be associated with serious psychiatric effects, including a handful of suicides. The problem is that the cannabinoid receptor system also influences mood through cascading effects that are difficult to control. As a result, we've seen researchers move away from cannabinoid receptors as therapeutic targets in recent years, although hope remains that a second generation of drugs can target cannabinoid receptors outside the brain to avoid the unwanted emotional side effects.  

Moving on to the serotonin receptor system
Because of these adverse effects associated with stimulating the cannabinoid receptor system, researchers have been looking into a highly similar biochemical pathway known as the serotonin receptor system. These receptors also tend to be G-Protein-coupled receptors and show a high distribution in the hypothalamus as well.

Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA  )  successfully developed an obesity med using this system recently, gaining Food and Drug Administration approval for its 5-HT2C agonist lorcaserin in 2012. Like Acomplia, lorcaserin promotes weight loss by making a person feel full, causing the person to eat less. While clinical trials showed that lorcaserin is a moderately effective weight-loss pill, some researchers have nonetheless raised the specter of potential serious psychiatric effects in this drug as well. Although we haven't seen evidence of any major side effects with lorcaserin since the drug's commercial launch, its relatively slow uptake into the obesity market is perhaps at least partially explained by safety concerns stemming from obesity drugs past. 

Source: Eisai Pharmaceuticals.

Foolish wrap-up
Doctors are hoping to one day have access to a safe and effective pharmacotherapy for chronic obesity. And despite promising insights from the cannabinoid receptor system, the sheer complexity of the human nervous and endocrine systems has blunted our best efforts so far.

Looking ahead, there is reason to believe that some pharma companies could reprise their efforts to develop an obesity med that targets the cannabinoid receptor system. Namely, recent work has shown that cannabinoid receptors are more widely distributed than previously thought, raising the potential to target them in tissues outside the central nervous system, hopefully lessening their influence on a person's mood. Besides the potential commercial implications, there are therapeutic reasons to go this route as well. Specifically, preclinical studies in rats have shown that a dual stimulation of the cannabinoid and serotonin pathways leads to a synergistic effect that appears to modify feeding behavior. In short, we could one day see lorcaserin used in conjunction with a next-generation cannabinoid receptor in the fight against obesity. 

That being said, pharma companies haven't exactly been lining up to develop new cannabinoid receptor-based obesity meds. In 2008, Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) shuttered one of the last efforts by a large pharma following problematic psychiatric effects arising in its clinical candidate taranabant. Whether these recent insights into cannabinoid receptors and obesity will prove enough to entice a company to follow up remains to be seen. Understand, however, that the field hasn't been entirely abandoned and progress is being made on how to best exploit this system without altering a patient's mental state. 

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  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 8:48 AM, marp11 wrote:

    BELVIQ slow uptake??

    are you smoking weed gain boys??

    trajectory week over week almost straight up//

    pipeline ADP371

    do your reseach fools....its THE cannibis painkiller

    AND ITS

    NON OPIOID

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 8:48 AM, marp11 wrote:

    WELL AGAIN ITS ARNA

    FIRST BELVIQ

    NOW WE HAVE THIS GEM COMING

    Drug Candidate for Treatment of Pain

    APD371, an orally available agonist of the cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptor, is an internally discovered investigational drug candidate intended for the treatment of pain. Currently available CB receptor agonists have been limited in utility by the psychotropic effects associated with the activation of the CB1, but not CB2, receptor subtype. We have identified several novel, potent, CB2-selective, lead compounds that are intended to retain the analgesic activity of the CB receptor agonists while avoiding the limiting psychotropic side effects.

    About Pain

    There is a need for non-opioid (non-narcotic), non-NSAID approaches to pain, especially for chronic pain. Narcotics suffer from tolerance, addiction and abuse potential and NSAIDs in longer term use may be associated with stomach injury/bleeding/death, heart attacks, hypertension, and kidney injury.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 8:49 AM, marp11 wrote:

    Drug Candidate for Treatment of Pain

    APD371, an orally available agonist of the cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptor, is an internally discovered investigational drug candidate intended for the treatment of pain. Currently available CB receptor agonists have been limited in utility by the psychotropic effects associated with the activation of the CB1, but not CB2, receptor subtype. We have identified several novel, potent, CB2-selective, lead compounds that are intended to retain the analgesic activity of the CB receptor agonists while avoiding the limiting psychotropic side effects.

    About Pain

    There is a need for non-opioid (non-narcotic), non-NSAID approaches to pain, especially for chronic pain. Narcotics suffer from tolerance, addiction and abuse potential and NSAIDs in longer term use may be associated with stomach injury/bleeding/death, heart attacks, hypertension, and kidney injury.

    ITS ARNA

    AGAIN

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 8:55 AM, marp11 wrote:

    GPCR TECH?? TRY ARNA THEY ONLY HAVE PERFECTED IT AND PATENTED IT....FOR EVERYTHING

    Our Drug Discovery Approach, Expertise and Technologies

    Our drug candidates have resulted from our validated GPCR-focused drug discovery and development approach, specialized expertise and technologies, including Constitutively Activated Receptor Technology (CART), and our Melanophore technology. GPCRs are categorized as “known” when their naturally occurring, or native, ligands have been identified. Scientists have used molecular cloning in combination with the sequencing of the human genome to identify both additional receptor subtypes of known GPCRs as well as hundreds of novel GPCRs. GPCRs are categorized as “orphan” GPCRs when their native ligands have not been identified. We believe both orphan and known GPCRs offer significant promise for the development of novel GPCR-based therapeutics.

    Our drug discovery approach, specialized expertise and technologies allow us to identify drug leads that act as receptor activators, or agonists, which increase the detected biological response, or act as receptor inhibitors, which decrease the detected response. We can also identify inverse agonists, which inhibit ligand-independent, as well as ligand-dependent, receptor activity.

    We believe that our drug discovery approach, expertise and technologies offer several advantages for drug discovery, including:

    eliminating the need to identify the native ligand for an orphan receptor;

    enhancing the detection of, and allowing us to simultaneously identify, both receptor inhibitor and receptor activator drug leads;

    allowing for the identification of drug leads that inhibit both ligand-independent and ligand-dependent activity; and

    providing the ability to discover novel and improved therapeutics directed at known receptors.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 9:00 AM, marp11 wrote:

    fools have failed on VVUS

    failing with OREX

    NOW ARNA IS ABOUT TO BE LET LOOSE BY THE STREET

    WATCH HER RUN

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 9:03 AM, marp11 wrote:

    VVUS??? FAIL

    OREX??? WILL FAIL

    ARNA?? hahahha about to start a run that will blow yer minds ,,

    shorts

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 12:21 PM, marp11 wrote:

    arna longs

    we are not selling our shares

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