Signaling-specific inhibition of the CB1 receptor for cannabis use disorder: phase 1 and phase 2a randomized trials.
Nat Med. 2023-06-01; 29(6): 1487-1499
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Cannabis use disorder (CUD) is widespread, and there is no pharmacotherapy to facilitate its treatment. AEF0117, the first of a new pharmacological class, is a signaling-specific inhibitor of the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1-SSi). AEF0117 selectively inhibits a subset of intracellular effects resulting from Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binding without modifying behavior per se. In mice and non-human primates, AEF0117 decreased cannabinoid self-administration and THC-related behavioral impairment without producing significant adverse effects. In single-ascending-dose (0.2 mg, 0.6 mg, 2 mg and 6 mg; n = 40) and multiple-ascending-dose (0.6 mg, 2 mg and 6 mg; n = 24) phase 1 trials, healthy volunteers were randomized to ascending-dose cohorts (n = 8 per cohort; 6:2 AEF0117 to placebo randomization). In both studies, AEF0117 was safe and well tolerated (primary outcome measurements). In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover phase 2a trial, volunteers with CUD were randomized to two ascending-dose cohorts (0.06 mg, n = 14; 1 mg, n = 15). AEF0117 significantly reduced cannabis’ positive subjective effects (primary outcome measurement, assessed by visual analog scales) by 19% (0.06 mg) and 38% (1 mg) compared to placebo (P < 0.04). AEF0117 (1 mg) also reduced cannabis self-administration (P < 0.05). In volunteers with CUD, AEF0117 was well tolerated and did not precipitate cannabis withdrawal. These data suggest that AEF0117 is a safe and potentially efficacious treatment for CUD.ClinicalTrials.gov identifiers: NCT03325595, NCT03443895 and NCT03717272.