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The Case for Cannabinoid CB1 Receptors as a Target for Bronchodilator Therapy for β-agonist Resistant Asthma

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Although β2-receceptor agonists are powerful bronchodilators and are at the forefront of asthma symptom relief, patients who use them frequently develop partial resistance to them. This can be a particularly serious problem during severe attacks, where high dose β2-agonist treatment is the front line therapy. Alternative bronchodilators are urgently needed. In this article we review the evidence for the bronchodilator effects of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and suggest that the mechanisms of action for these effects are sufficiently independent of the mechanisms of standard bronchodilators to warrant clinical investigation. Specifically, clinical trials testing the bronchodilator effects of THC in β2 agonist resistant asthmatic patients would show whether THC could fill the role of rescue bronchodilator in cases of β2 agonist resistance.
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Keywords: Asthma; CB1 receptor; THC; bronchodilation; salbutamol; β2-agonist

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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