Translational advances of melanocortin drugs: Integrating biology, chemistry and genetics

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Melanocortin receptors have emerged as important targets with a very unusual versatility, as their widespread distribution on multiple tissues (e.g. skin, adrenal glands, brain, immune cells, exocrine glands) together with the variety of physiological processes they control (pigmentation, cortisol release, satiety mechanism, inflammation, secretions), place this family of receptors as genuine therapeutic targets for many disorders. This review focuses in the journey of the development of melanocortin receptors as therapeutic targets from the discovery of their existence in the early 1990 s to the approval of the first few drugs of this class. Two major areas of development characterise the current state of melanocortin drug development: their role in obesity, recently culminated with the approval of setmelanotide, and their potential for the treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or fibrosis. The pro-resolving nature of these drugs offers the advantage of acting by mimicking the way our body naturally resolves inflammation, expecting fewer side effects and a more balanced (i.e. non-immunosuppressive) response from them. Here we also review the approaches followed for the design and development of novel compounds, the importance of the GPCR nature of these receptors in the process of drug development, therapeutic value, current challenges and successes, and the potential for the implementation of precision medicine approaches through the incorporation of genetics advances.

TidsskriftSeminars in Immunology
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
TMM received funding from Barts Charity (Grant MGU0548 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

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