CANNABIS AND CANNABINOIDS RESEARCH
This project will discover and characterise new small-molecule modulators of the activity of the G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) belonging to the cannabinoid receptors family as therapeutic targets for the treatment of chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. This will involve a range of chemical synthesis, molecular modelling and biological testing approaches used in the drug discovery process. In particular, we will investigate the receptor dimerization a process involving cannabinoid receptors and other GPCRs. GPCRs, traditionally thought to function as independent units, could come together in the cell membrane to form a receptor homodimer. Interestingly, different types of GPCRs could bind each other to form a receptor heterodimer opening an exponential number of ways in which a single receptor (for example, the cannabinoid CB1 receptor) could influence other receptors. This project will identify new, effective, small-molecule modulators of the activity of cannabinoid receptors and their heterodimers with the potential to become therapeutic agents in the treatment of diabetes, cancer and other metabolic disorders. The overall goal is to determine whether strategies aimed at cannabinoid receptors heterodimers can be beneficial in metabolic diseases. This approach would represent a significant advantage compared to current available therapies since it would aim at targeting multiple receptors that form heterodimers with cannabinoids with high specificity. The Metabolic Signalling group and the Cannabinoid Signalling group are already part of a team working in concert with Pharmaceutical companies with the aim to bring cannabinoid-based treatments to clinical trials. The main objective of the team is to proceed in a short term to human clinical trials underlining the high translational potential of this project. Prof Falasca is regularly invited to present his work to public meetings, mostly attended by community end-users, on cannabinoid research and the potential application in cancer and diabetes.