Breakthrough in Cannabinoid Drug Delivery May Enhance Medical Use of CBD
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Credit: Jurassic Blueberries. Cannabis Understands - 2017 on Flickr
Modern science has substantiated both the anecdotal history and the efficacy of cannabidiol ("CBD"), a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis sativa plant. Research has revealed that CBD may significantly reduce inflammation and is now widely used to treat chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, epilepsy, and numerous other conditions. There is even evidence that CBD has potential to prevent symptoms of Alzheimer's and appears to suppress the growth of cancer cells and promote the death of these cells. While CBD may provide solutions to multiple unmet medical needs, current drug delivery techniques remain antiquated. There are inherent metabolic issues in the consistent, effective delivery of cannabinoids, and these new pharmaceutical therapeutics require revolutionary techniques of administration. Establishing a new paradigm in cannabinoid drug delivery, PreveCeutical Medical is engineering a unique Sol-gel nose-to-brain delivery platform to provide direct, controlled pharmacological drug release. Many companies produce cutting-edge pharmaceutical cannabis compounds, yet rely on outdated delivery mechanisms and may find PreveCeutical's platform superior to current dosing techniques.
CBD is understandably generating worldwide interest from the investment community. According to a report by Grand View Research the global medical cannabis market is expected to grow from the $11.4 billion in reached 2015 to a staggering $55.8 billion by 2025. Driven by the growing need for pain mitigation and increased awareness of potential health benefits, the global market for CBD is growing at a phenomenal 39% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). In spite of any short-term fluctuations, the long-term outlook for cannabis companies remains positive. Increased efficacy would only enhance the outlook.
The Problem with Existing Cannabinoid Drug Delivery Systems
Conventional administration of cannabinoid therapeutics relies heavily on inhalation or the ingestion of solutions or capsules. Whether through inhalation or ingestion, cannabinoids are first moved into the bloodstream and then pass through the liver. The drugs never directly impact the target area of disease or pain because the liver first filters then metabolizes the drugs. Subsequently, potency and release times are unpredictable and inconsistent. Moreover, cannabinoids don't readily dissolve in water which adds to dosing difficulties and discrepancies. The blood brain barrier also presents a major challenge in delivering targeted, consistent therapeutic relief. The blood brain barrier has historically stymied drug delivery because the capillaries that carry blood to the brain filter and block the passage of certain substances hindering therapeutic treatments.
In a unique and potentially transformative drug delivery technique, PreveCeutical Medical is engineering the world's first nose-to-brain drug delivery platform. In research and development for over seven years by PreveCeutical's Chief Research Officer, Dr. Harendra Parekh, Ph.D., the company's novel Sol-gel technology is designed for enhanced efficacy, targeted delivery and superior time release of cannabinoid (CBD) based medications. Bypassing the blood brain barrier, this nasal spray formulation rapidly gels upon contact with mucosal tissue to effectuate targeted drug delivery directly to the brain. PreveCeutical's platform circumvents the blood stream and allows specific doses to reach specific targets without the filtering and metabolism that occur in the liver.
Sol-gel remains on the mucosal tissue for extended release and vastly improved bioavailability. Since cannabinoids don't readily dissolve in water Dr. Parekh and his team also developed proprietary technology to place and retain cannabinoids in aqueous mediums, thus creating never before achieved direct central nervous system drug delivery and potency controls.
Last year PreveCeutical entered into a research and option agreement with the University of Queensland, Australia and UniQuest Pty Limited, the main commercialization company of the university, to develop a soluble gel to deliver cannabinoids directly to the brain via the nasal cavity. Terms of the research program, scheduled to start in March 2018, state that PreveCeutical will own all intellectual property developed under the program and will be granted an option to negotiate an exclusive worldwide license to UniQuest's background IP. Dr. Harry Parekh, chief research officer for PreveCeutical, will lead the Sol-gel cannabinoid project from his base at the University's School of Pharmacy. PreveCeutical Chairman and CEO, Stephen Van Deventer stated, "Nasal delivery of cannabinoids could potentially provide a safer and more reliable delivery platform with clinical benefits for pain, inflammation, seizures, and mental illness."
PreveCeutical has already brought one product to market and is developing a diverse portfolio of research and development programs that address large market diseases. PreveCeutical Medical's first commercial product, CELLB9®, is an oral dilute solution infused with select peptides. PreveCeutical's highly respected research team is now using proprietary chemistry to generate Nature Identical™ peptides derived from natural compounds found only in Caribbean Blue Scorpion venom. PreveCeutical, and its Australian research commercialization partner UniQuest, are currently screening these peptides across some of the most aggressive diseases where there exists unmet clinical needs.
PreveCeutical is also pursuing dual-gene therapy research as both a preventative measure and possible treatment for type 2 diabetes and obesity. Over five years of multi-disciplinary research has generated convincing results in disease models that a single gene may be implicated in type 2 diabetes and obesity. PreveCeutical's gene-silencing technology would effectively turn off the genetic signal which leads to the over-production of a key protein molecule, in turn reducing blood sugar levels and preventing the body from storing excessive fat. PreveCeutical's Chief Research Officer, Dr. Harendra Parekh, Ph.D. stated, "…gene-silencing does not represent a mere management for diabetes and obesity, it represents the potential for a bona fide cure…"
PreveCeutical and its partner UniQuest are expanding the use of their disulphide linker technology to develop non-addictive analgesics for moderate-to-severe pain. The four-phase research program will be led by Dr. Parekh and carried out in collaboration with pain and inflammation pharmacology experts at the University of Queensland. Dr. Parekh commented, "This is a very exciting and important program as we focus on engineering a novel class of drugs derived from our very own endogenous pain pathways... Our preliminary work has highlighted that by using our proprietary linker technology we can enhance stability while maintaining, and in some cases enhancing the potency of lead bioactives." In what could be a breakthrough in pain management, enhancing both stability and potency of bioactives may well enhance brain uptake, allowing peptides to bind to receptors, block pain signals and provide non-opioid pain relief.
Medical Cannabis Producers
The granddaddy of Canadian cannabis companies, Canopy Growth, has the most extensive share of Canada's medical marijuana market. The company operates seven cannabis production sites with over 665,000 square feet of production capacity and offers distinct brands and curated cannabis varieties in dried, oil and Softgel capsule forms. Canopy has operations in seven countries across four continents and has attracted an investment by beverage giant Constellation Brands for a 9 percent stake in the company. Through a subsidiary, Canopy has invested millions of dollars toward cutting edge, research and IP development and could easily incorporate and probably benefit from better cannabinoid delivery mechanisms.
Aphria produces, supplies and sells medical cannabis. Aphria prides itself on sunlight grown products and is committed to providing pharma-grade medical cannabis. The company is the exclusive online supplier of cannabis to Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada's largest retail pharmacy chain. Aphria offers capsules of extracted cannabis oil, extracted cannabis oil in an oral dropper and CBD vaporizers. With its large retail presence and outdated delivery protocols, Aphria would be a natural fit for a better cannabinoid delivery platform.
Isodiol International is a leader in pharmaceutical grade phytochemical (plant based) compounds and an industry leader in the manufacturing and development of hemp-based CBD consumer products. Isodiol was a pioneer in the commercialization of 99%+ pure, bioactive pharmaceutical grade cannabinoids, micro-encapsulations, and nanotechnology for delivery of high quality ingestible and topical skin care products. However, ingestible CBD products have well known metabolic and absorption challenges. New delivery mechanisms are likely the solution to enhanced cannabinoid efficacy.