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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Jun 2024 - 5 Jul 2024

2024 Jul 01

CNS Drugs


The State of Synthetic Cannabinoid Medications for the Treatment of Pain.


Maglaviceanu A, Peer M, Rockel J, Bonin RP, Fitzcharles MA, Ladha KS, Bhatia A, Leroux T, Kotra L, Kapoor M, Clarke H


Synthetic cannabinoids are compounds made in the laboratory to structurally and functionally mimic phytocannabinoids from the Cannabis sativa L. plant, including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) can signal via the classical endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) and the greater endocannabidiome network, highlighting their signalling complexity and far-reaching effects. Dronabinol and nabilone, which mimic THC signalling, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and/or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, there is ongoing interest in these two drugs as potential analgesics for a variety of other clinical conditions, including neuropathic pain, spasticity-related pain, and nociplastic pain syndromes including fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and postoperative pain, among others. In this review, we highlight the signalling mechanisms of FDA-approved synthetic cannabinoids, discuss key clinical trials that investigate their analgesic potential, and illustrate challenges faced when bringing synthetic cannabinoids to the clinic.