Modern approaches to the development of synthetic cannabinoid receptor probes

Savanah L. Saldaña-Shumaker, Alexander J. Grenning, Christopher W. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The endocannabinoid system, which spans the central and peripheral nervous systems and regulates many biologic processes, is an important target for probe discovery and medications development. Whereas the earliest endocannabinoid receptor probes were derivatives of the non-selective phytocannabinoids isolated from Cannabis species, modern drug discovery techniques have expanded the definitions of what constitutes a CB1R or CB2R cannabinoid receptor ligand. This review highlights recent advances in synthetic cannabinoid receptor chemistry and pharmacology. We provide examples of new CB1R- and CB2R-selective probes, and discuss rational approaches to the design of peripherally-restricted agents. We also describe structural classes of positive- and negative allosteric modulators (PAMs and NAMs) of CB1R and CB2R. Finally, we introduce new opportunities for cannabinoid receptor probe development that have emerged in recent years, including biased agonists that may lead to medications lacking adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number173119
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Allosteric modulators
  • CB1 cannabinoid receptor
  • CB2 cannabinoid receptor
  • Drug discovery
  • Endocannabinoid


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