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Pharmaceutical Cannabis Science

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Cannabinoids are interesting therapeutic molecules because they do not act the same as most pharmaceutical drugs. Rather than strongly binding to a single target in the body, many cannabinoids only weakly connect with targets, or affect receptors in a process called allosteric regulation. They also reinforce each other’s behavior, with the presence of one cannabinoid causing increased sensitivity to the activity of another. The behavior of natural compounds can be studied and manipulated. Medicinal chemists attenuate unwanted side effects and increase activity and selectivity by screening structural analogues against cellular targets. One of the things most people don’t realize about the drug discovery process is that a compounded goes through many changes before its final form. More often than not, drugs going into human trials look nothing like the natural compounds from which they were derived. Therefore, the fear that increasing pharmaceutical access to cannabinoids might lead to increased cannabis proliferation is entirely unfounded. This panel will go over the cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals currently on the market, what their similarities and differences are, and what therapies are currently in the drug discovery pipeline. Panelists will also address the difference between targeted therapy with isolated cannabinoids and treatments with enriched whole-cannabis extracts.

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