Research exploring endocannabinoids for low back pain

Sep 26, 2023

Image courtesy University of Galway features Professor David Finn is a founding Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research at the University of Galway and Researcher Mary Hopkins.  This research group investigates the body’s cannabis-like compounds, called endocannabinoids, produced in the brain and other organs of the body. We know that endocannabinoids can play an important role in regulating pain.

This clinical research study recruits participants with acute or chronic low back pain. This study investigates whether patients with low back pain have altered pain sensitivity linked with changes in endocannabinoid levels.

Principal Investigator David Finn, Professor and Head of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at University of Galway and Co-Director of the institution’s Centre for Pain Research, explains that 650 million people globally currently suffer from back pain, and that could hit 843 million by 2050. “There are multiple reasons why someone can develop back pain,” he continues. “That can be from stress, wear and tear, damage, injury or organic causes including diseases such as cancer.”

The research focuses on intervertebral disc injury or degeneration, which accounts for 25–40% of all low back pain. Professor Finn states that “available treatments only work effectively in some patients, and current drugs can have side effects or become addictive, while surgical treatments, like spinal fusion, are not always successful. It is a major unmet clinical need. We need to better understand the condition and the neurobiology of low back pain and be able to better predict, through research, who will transition from acute short-term low back pain — which might last a few days — to chronic back pain, which lasts months or years.”

The findings from this study will advance the understanding of how low back pain develops in people, and whether endocannabinoids may play a role. The study, which has full ethics approval from the University of Galway and University Hospital Galway, aims to pave the way for developing novel endocannabinoid-based diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutics for chronic low back pain. The research is being conducted at the Clinical Research Facility in University Hospital Galway. For more information or to register your interest in participating in the research study, please scan QR code below contact Mary Hopkins at [email protected]




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