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October 5, 2012
The Return of CB1
CB1 ligands were all the rage a few years ago, headlined by Sanofi's rimonabant. These looked like the best shot at the obesity market in a long time, if you were of an optimistic frame of mind. But the entire class came crashing down with the regulatory rejection of rimonabant itself, followed by the failure of Merck's taranabant in the same area. (Pfizer publicly dropped out of the area, and number of other CB1 programs never even upped periscope, after watching the chaos up there on the surface).
Now there might be another shot. CNS side effects doomed the original ligands, but many people thought that the brain was the site of action. How about a compound that's selective for the periphery? Work has been going on over the last few years to just that end, It turns out that these actually do seem to show effects in rodent models, so the chase might be on again. You'd think that anything that avoids the brain, with its ever-present potential for "Wow, who knew that would happen?" effects, would have a better shot. Given the size of the obesity market, I think we'll be given the chance to find out. . .
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