Ibudilast for the treatment of drug addiction and other neurological conditions

Author(s): Kirk W Johnson, Kazuko Matsuda & Yuichi Iwaki

Ibudilast is a small molecular weight, orally administered compound that was originally developed and approved in Japan over 20 years ago for bronchial asthma and poststroke complication (subsequently defined as poststroke dizziness in 2002). Over the last 10 years, there has been substantial progress in better understanding ibudilast’s molecular and cellular actions including macrophage migration inhibitory factor inhibition, phosphodiesterase inhibition and attenuation of activated glia. Moreover, its potential safety and efficacy in new neurological indications has been explored via animal models and Phase I and II clinical studies. Phase II clinical trials have now initiated in methamphetamine and other drug addictions, progressive multiple sclerosis and pain. A current model of ibudilast target action and a review of its translational progress and prospects as a new medication in these disorders is described.