Two compounds that target the endocannabinoid system are currently in development to treat scleroderma – and they’re already in clinical trials.
THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM AND SCLERODERMA
Scleroderma usually appears at first as an abnormal skin condition. Skin diseases typically involve a dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is true for scleroderma, as well as for more common maladies like acne and psoriasis.
Comprised of endogenous compounds that bind to cannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2 – that are expressed in all types of skin cells, the ECS plays a vital role in maintaining skin homeostasis through a signaling mechanism that promotes healthy skin renewal and barrier function.
There are several reasons why the endocannabinoid system might present a good target for scleroderma drugs. Both cannabinoid receptors subtypes are overexpressed in scleroderma fibroblasts, as is the endogenous cannabinoid 2-AG.
Additionally, the expression of FAAH, the metabolic enzyme that breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamide, is abnormally low in the skin of scleroderma patients. This indicates that something is fundamentally out of whack with the endocannabinoid system.. 😉