Scleroderma is an auto-immune disorder that mitigates the human skin from healing properly when it’s cut. People with scleroderma usually experience inflammation and pain. This is typically the case with most autoimmune disorders, and there are no therapies specifically developed to address this medical condition. This treatment scarcity renders scleroderma an ‘orphan’. When a medical condition is considered an ‘orphan disease’, the FDA would usually incentivize drug manufacturers to make new and innovative drugs for treating the rare disease. A couple of compounds targeting the endocannabinoid system are being developed to treat scleroderma.
Scleroderma and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD and Scleroderma initially shows up as an abnormal condition of the skin. Skin diseases usually entail endocannabinoid system (ECS) dysregulation. This applies to scleroderma, and also to a few other common maladies such as psoriasis and acne. The ECS has an important role to play in the maintenance of skin homeostasis. It works via a signaling mechanism, promoting barrier function and healthy skin removal.
There are multiple reasons why the ECS could be a solid target for scleroderma medications. In scleroderma fibroblasts, both subtypes of cannabinoid receptors are overexpressed, and also the 2-AG endogenous cannabinoid. Moreover, the FAAH expression, the metabolic syndrome that breaks the endocannabinoid anandamide down, is considerably low in scleroderma patients’ skin. This denotes something is fundamentally wrong with the ECS.
CBD and Scleroderma Clinical Trials
Pharmaceutical researchers are considering creating a drug that boosts CB2 receptors. CB2 receptors help mitigate excess collagen and tissue formation. CB1 receptors, on the other hand, do the exact opposite. Called “selective CB2 agonist”, the compound has the potential to be an effective and feasible scleroderma treatment.
Moreover, CB2 receptors are usually localized outside the brain. They are, therefore, not tasked with mediating intoxication induced by THC. A drug that targets CB2 receptors selectively wouldn’t cause psychoactive side effects that are usually linked with CB1 activation. This attribute, in fact, could go a long way in helping the drug get a nod from the FDA.
Incentivized by the promise of developing a scleroderma drug, a few companies are betting on certain CBD and Scleroderma agonists currently undergoing clinical trials. Only time would tell whether these efforts bear fruit. Earlier attempts to come up with the drug may have not crossed the finishing line. However, the pace and momentum at which existing clinical trials are proceeding give hope. Even if the tests bear fruit, one would only have to wait and see when do these drugs come to the consumer market.