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Drug Discov Today. 2010 May;15(9-10):371-83. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2010.02.011. Epub 2010 Mar 3.

Progress in corticotropin-releasing factor-1 antagonist development.

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Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) receptor antagonists have been sought since the stress-secreted peptide was isolated in 1981. Although evidence is mixed concerning the efficacy of CRF(1) antagonists as antidepressants, CRF(1) antagonists might be novel pharmacotherapies for anxiety and addiction. Progress in understanding the two-domain model of ligand-receptor interactions for CRF family receptors might yield chemically novel CRF(1) receptor antagonists, including peptide CRF(1) antagonists, antagonists with signal transduction selectivity and nonpeptide CRF(1) antagonists that act via the extracellular (rather than transmembrane) domains. Novel ligands that conform to the prevalent pharmacophore and exhibit drug-like pharmacokinetic properties have been identified. The therapeutic utility of CRF(1) antagonists should soon be clearer: several small molecules are currently in Phase II/III clinical trials for depression, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome.

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