Medicinal cannabis, cannabis extracts, and other cannabinoids are currently in use or under clinical trial investigation for the control of nausea, emesis and wasting in patients undergoing chemotherapy, the control of neuropathic pain and arthritic pain, and the control of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The further development of medicinal cannabinoids has been challenged with problems. These include the psychoactivity of cannabinoid CB1 receptor agonists and the lack of availability of highly selective cannabinoid receptor full agonists (for the CB1 or CB2 receptor), as well as problems of pharmacokinetics. Global activation of cannabinoid receptors is usually undesirable, and so enhancement of local endocannabinoid receptor activity with indirect cannabimimetics is an attractive strategy for therapeutic modulation of the endocannabinoid system. However, existing drugs of this type tend to be metabolized by the same enzymes as their target endocannabinoids and are not yet available in a form that is clinically useful. A potential solution to these problems may now have been suggested by the discovery that paracetamol (acetaminophen) exerts its analgesic (and probably anti-pyretic) effects by its degradation into an anandamide (an endocannabinoid) reuptake inhibitor (AM404) within the body, thus classifying it as prodrug for an indirect cannabimimetic. Given the proven efficacy and safety of paracetamol, the challenge now is to develop related drugs, or entirely different substrates, into pro-drug indirect cannabimimetics with a similar safety profile to paracetamol but at high effective dose titrations.
Keywords: AM404, cannabinoid, CB1 receptor, CB2 receptor, endocannabinoid system, indirect cannabimimetic, paracetamol, pro-drug
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