NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Derivatives of the active compound in cannabis -- cannabinoids -- may have the potential for treating inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, UK researchers report. "The system that responds to cannabis in the brain is present and functioning in the lining of the gut," lead researcher Dr. Karen Wright, of the University of Bath, explained to Reuters Health. "There is an increased presence of one component of this system during inflammatory bowel diseases," she explained. Wright and her colleagues established the location of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in human colon tissue, and used human colon cell lines to investigate the binding of cannabinoid compounds and in wound-healing experiments. They report their findings in the journal Gastroenterology The team found that CB2 was increased in colonic tissue characteristic of inflammatory bowel disease. Cannabinoids enhanced surface wound closure via CB1-related mechanisms. "Cannabinoids, which we make ourselves, as well as synthetic cannabinoids, can promote wound healing in the gut, which is extremely interesting given that inflammatory bowel disease involves damaged gut linings," Wright said. Although results are available yet, she added, relevant studies of the use of cannabinoids are taking place in the UK and a clinical trial is being conducted in Germany. SOURCE: Gastroenterology, August 2005.