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Future Med Chem. 2012 Feb;4(2):187-204. doi: 10.4155/fmc.11.179.

Latest advances in novel cannabinoid CB(2) ligands for drug abuse and their therapeutic potential.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


The field of cannabinoid (CB) drug research is experiencing a challenge as the CB(1) antagonist Rimonabant, launched in 2006 as an anorectic/anti-obesity drug, was withdrawn from the European market due to the complications of suicide and depression as side effects. There is interest in developing CB(2) drugs without CB(1) psychotropic side effects for drug-abuse treatment and therapeutic medication. The CB(1) receptor was discovered predominantly in the brain, whereas the CB(2) is mainly expressed in peripheral cells and tissues, and is involved in immune signal transduction. Conversely, the CB(2) receptor was recently detected in the CNS, for example, in the microglial cells and the neurons. While the CB(2) neurons activity remains controversial, the CB(2) receptor is an attractive therapeutic target for neuropathic pain, immune system, cancer and osteoporosis without psychoactivity. This review addresses CB drug abuse and therapeutic potential with a focus on the most recent advances on new CB(2) ligands from the literature as well as patents.

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