The endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in several diseases, including drug dependence. The long-term objective of this application is to understand the role that CB1, CB2 and orphan G-protein-coupled receptors play in these processes. Presently, CB1 receptor agonists act both centrally and peripherally and as well as at CB2 receptors. We propose to develop new CB1 receptor agonists that lack CB2 receptor affinity and/or are restricted to the periphery. Considerable emphasis will be placed on CB1 receptor allosteric modulators as we predict they will produce a pharmacological profile distinct from orthosteric ligands. Furthermore, perturbation of the endocannabinoid system in disease states could be due to either alterations in endocannabinoid levels or constitutive receptor activity, processes that are not easily distinguished by current CB1 receptor inverse agonists/antagonists. Therefore, we will pursue new leads in developing neutral CB1 receptor antagonists that will act solely to block endocannabinoids. Since both CB1 and CB2 receptors exhibit anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, we propose to fully characterize these properties of CB2 selective agonists that we developed during the current funding period. In addition, we will determine the degree of tolerance that these CB2 selective agonists produce. There is now ample evidence that additional cannabinoid receptor subtypes exist, including several orphan G-protein-coupled receptors. One of our goals is to determine whether GPR55 is a cannabinoid receptor, and if so, what is its pharmacological properties and contribution to drug dependence. Based upon many years of experience, we have developed an evaluation screen that allows us to prioritize new compounds for analysis. Initial evaluation in CB1 and CB2 receptor binding and function assays allow us to determine which compounds will be evaluated in vivo using the mouse tetrad or in situ using smooth muscle preparations. Subsequent analysis will include acute and chronic pain models, drug discrimination, tolerance and dependence protocols as appropriate for individual specific aims. We will also employ CB1, CB2, and GPR55 knockout mice as necessary. New cannabinoid orthosteric agonists and allosteric modulators for CB1, CB2 and new cannabinoid receptors, as well as neutral antagonists, hold promise as therapeutic agents for treatment of drug dependence, chronic pain, and other neurological disorders.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of this project is to gain a better understanding of the role that the endocannabinoid system plays in pain perception and drug addiction. We propose to develop new drugs for investigating the endocannabinoid system. These drugs will also have potential use as analgesics and drug abuse medications.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Molecular Neuropharmacology and Signaling Study Section (MNPS)
Program Officer
Rapaka, Rao
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Research Triangle Institute
Research Triangle
United States
Zip Code
Nguyen, Thuy; Li, Jun-Xu; Thomas, Brian F et al. (2016) Allosteric Modulation: An Alternate Approach Targeting the Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor. Med Res Rev :
Grim, T W; Morales, A J; Gonek, M M et al. (2016) Stratification of Cannabinoid 1 Receptor (CB1R) Agonist Efficacy: Manipulation of CB1R Density through Use of Transgenic Mice Reveals Congruence between In Vivo and In Vitro Assays. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 359:329-339
Wiley, Jenny L; Lefever, Timothy W; Marusich, Julie A et al. (2016) Evaluation of first generation synthetic cannabinoids on binding at non-cannabinoid receptors and in a battery of in vivo assays in mice. Neuropharmacology 110:143-53
Wiley, Jenny L; Marusich, Julie A; Thomas, Brian F (2016) Combination Chemistry: Structure-Activity Relationships of Novel Psychoactive Cannabinoids. Curr Top Behav Neurosci :
Wiley, Jenny L; Owens, R Allen; Lichtman, Aron H (2016) Discriminative Stimulus Properties of Phytocannabinoids, Endocannabinoids, and Synthetic Cannabinoids. Curr Top Behav Neurosci :
Goonawardena, Anushka V; Plano, Andrea; Robinson, Lianne et al. (2015) Modulation of food consumption and sleep-wake cycle in mice by the neutral CB1 antagonist ABD459. Behav Pharmacol 26:289-303
Poklis, Justin L; Clay, Deborah J; Ignatowska-Jankowska, Bogna M et al. (2015) HPLC-MS-MS Determination of ZCZ-011, A Novel Pharmacological Tool for Investigation of the Cannabinoid Receptor in Mouse Brain Using Clean Screen FAStâ„¢ Column Extraction. J Anal Toxicol 39:353-8
Ignatowska-Jankowska, Bogna M; Baillie, Gemma L; Kinsey, Steven et al. (2015) A Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor-Positive Allosteric Modulator Reduces Neuropathic Pain in the Mouse with No Psychoactive Effects. Neuropsychopharmacology 40:2948-59
Nguyen, Thuy; German, Nadezhda; Decker, Ann M et al. (2015) Structure-activity relationships of substituted 1H-indole-2-carboxamides as CB1 receptor allosteric modulators. Bioorg Med Chem 23:2195-203
Wiley, Jenny L; Marusich, Julie A; Lefever, Timothy W et al. (2015) AB-CHMINACA, AB-PINACA, and FUBIMINA: Affinity and Potency of Novel Synthetic Cannabinoids in Producing Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol-Like Effects in Mice. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 354:328-39

Showing the most recent 10 out of 269 publications