Agonists are a class of chemicals that bind to certain receptors of a cell and trigger a series of responses. A selective agonist is specific for a certain type of receptor. Agonists can be classified as full agonists or partial agonists. Full agonists bind and activate a receptor, displaying full efficacy at that receptor. Partial agonists also bind and activate a given receptor, but has only partial efficacy at that receptor. Agonists are widely used in the clinical setting. Four members of 5-hydroxytryptamine1B/1D (5-HT1B/1D) receptor agonists have been developed for the treatment of migraine headaches and approved for general clinical use in the United States. Dopamine agonists are first-line agents for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Increasing preclinical and clinical literature suggests that GABAB receptor agonists promote abstinence and reduce the use of cocaine, heroin, alcohol and nicotine.
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