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Double blinded, vehicle controlled, crossover study on the efficacy of a topical endocannabinoid membrane transporter inhibitor in atopic Beagles


The endocannabinoid system is important for skin homeostasis and alterations are linked to inflammatory diseases like atopic dermatitis (AD). Importantly, activation of cannabinoid receptor CB2 decreases pruritus and inflammation in mouse models. Reduction of inactivation of endogenous cannabinoids could, therefore, be a therapeutic option for AD. Dogs spontaneously develop AD, which closely mimics the human disease making them suitable to test new therapies. Our study aimed to test the effects of a topical endocannabinoid membrane transporter inhibitor (WOL067-531, 1% gel) on pruritus and dermatitis in a canine model of AD. Nineteen Beagles allergic to dust mites (DM) were randomized to receive either active ingredient or vehicle on inguinal area while challenged epicutaneously with DM twice weekly for 28 days. Treatment was administered twice daily and started after three challenges (day 8). Dermatitis and pruritus were scored weekly by personnel blinded to treatment allocation. Dermatitis was scored using a validated scoring system and pruritus was scored using camera recordings. After a 4-week washout, dogs were crossed over and the study was repeated. On days 15 and 22, dermatitis scores were significantly increased after DM challenge in the vehicle group (16.34, p = 0.0089 and 7.42, p = 0.04845, respectively) but not in the active ingredient group (p = 0.3177 and p = 0.3190, respectively). Significant decrease on pruritus both on inguinal area and overall (p = 0.048 and p = 0.032, respectively) occurred in the active ingredient group. No adverse effects were noted. In conclusion, the newly developed topical endocannabinoid membrane transporter inhibitor (WOL067-531) minimized allergic flares and pruritus in a canine model of AD.

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Funding for this study was provided by Dr. August Wolff GmbH & Co. KG Arzneimittel.

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Correspondence to Rosanna Marsella.

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Dr. Marsella has received Grants from Novartis, Pfizer, Zoetis, Boehringer, Merial, Bioresponse and Artic. Dr. Marsella does not own stock in any of these companies. Dr. Abels and Dr. Soeberdt are employees of Dr. August Wolff GmbH & Co. KG Arzneimittel. Dr. Abels and Dr. Soeberdt are named as inventor on a patent application claiming novel 1,3-benzoxazol-2(3H)-ones and their use as medicaments and cosmetics.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

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Marsella, R., Ahrens, K., Sanford, R. et al. Double blinded, vehicle controlled, crossover study on the efficacy of a topical endocannabinoid membrane transporter inhibitor in atopic Beagles. Arch Dermatol Res 311, 795–800 (2019).

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  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Dog model
  • Topical
  • Endocannabinoids