Summary And Future Prospects

It is hoped that the scope of this review article has given the reader a good impression of the rate at which cannabinoid research is progressing. The last decade has seen a rapid growth in cannabinoid research, which looks set to continue. The therapeutic potential of cannabinoid agonists has long been acknowledged through the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. However, the accompanying psychotropic effects have restricted the usefulness of this approach. We are now starting to observe that at least some of the benefits of cannabinoids can be realised without CNS side effects through strategies such as peripheral restriction of compounds, CB2 subtype selectivity and subtle modulation of the endocannabinoid system. Improved drug delivery systems are also proving beneficial in this regard, although beyond the scope of this review.

Antagonism of cannabinoid receptors is now attracting a huge amount of attention, following on the successful rimonabant (382) clinical trials. At the time of writing, a launch date in 2006 is anticipated for (382) and it will be intriguing to observe the future of this mechanistic approach in the treatment of various conditions, particularly obesity. With an ever-growing knowledge of the endocannabinoid system, and the possible identification of further receptor subtypes, the future of cannabinoid research seems very bright indeed.

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