Professor Alexandros Makriyannis works in his lab.

Cannabis leads us to a revolutionary molecule for addressing pain management and opioid tolerance

Marijuana, pot, weed, mary jane, cannabis; whatever you call it or however you consume it, cannabis is treasured around the world. With the widespread legalization of medical marijuana in the United States — 38 states, three territories and the District of Columbia — there’s a buzz about it among scientists. They’re trying to understand and isolate one of its magical offerings: pain relief. In one study, 30% of adults who consumed cannabis reported having used it for that reason, but they didn’t necessarily want to be high.

This is what propelled Alexandros Makriyannis, George D. Behrakis chair in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at Northeastern University and director of the Center for Drug Discovery, to develop a molecule that works with the same body systems as cannabis without triggering the psychoactive effects.

“THC is nice because it’s natural and in cannabis,” he says. But he believes it’s not the only path.

Read more from Northeastern University Research.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Chemistry and Chemical Biology