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Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2005 Jul;6(7):672-9.

The endocannabinoid system: a drug discovery perspective.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4625, USA.


The endocannabinoids are lipid messengers that engage the same cell surface receptors targeted by delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active component of marijuana. They are produced by cells in the brain and other tissues and combine with two subtypes of G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. Their ability to modulate a variety of pathophysiological processes, including appetite, pain and mood, provides unique opportunities for drug discovery. Three such opportunities are discussed here: reduction of body weight through blockade of CB1 receptors, alleviation of pain through activation of extracerebral cannabinoid receptors, and modulation of pain and anxiety through inhibition of endocannabinoid degradation.

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