A new approach to combating cancer is currently under development by a two-year-old Israeli-American company. Cannabics Pharmacueticals, led by University of Haifa alumnus Zohar Koren, is creating a new and more effective way that cannabis can be used in the treatment of, and recovery from, cancer.
As scientists and patients discover the pain-relief and healing properties of cannabis, more governments are legalizing the distribution of medical marijuana by prescription. Yet physicians remain uneasy about the way it’s administered (rolled up in smoking paper or dropped into a vaporizer) and the inability to measure exact dosages. This new product, however, puts the medicinal compounds of cannabis into a sustained-release capsule in standardized doses.
The product, Cannabics SR, is designed as a palliative pain treatment for cancer patients. In observational studies, it provided 10 to 12 hours of steady beneficial therapeutic effects. Clinical trials at a major Israeli medical center are planned this year to test its safety and efficacy.
Because Cannabics SR can be classified as a cannabis-infused edible for which a regulatory path already exists, no lengthy regulatory red tape is anticipated. In fact, Cannabics recently signed two distribution agreements — one in Spain and another in Colorado, one of 23 states in the United States where medical marijuana is legalized.
“For so many years, this plant has been totally banned by authorities and regarded as devoid of medicinal properties, which is kind of absurd because its beneficial effects for cancer and pain and other conditions have been known since the 1960s,” says Koren, who holds a PhD from the University of Haifa in computational biology and spent seven years developing pharmaceuticals at other Israeli startups.
“Many medications are available in sustained-release form but never for cannabis because it was never regarded as a pharmaceutical,” Koren says.
He notes that a few other oral medical cannabis products are under development or already in the market, such as Dixie Scrips, Idrasil and Tetralabs Gold Caps. “The main difference between Cannabics SR and all other products is our sophisticated sustained-release formulation that allows for 10- to 12-hours beneficial effects within the therapeutic window upon a single administration.”
As Cannabics builds its patent-pending IP and gears up to market in Israel, the United States and Europe, US scientists have been approaching the company about using its lab for cannabis research that is still outlawed in their home country.
“A huge advantage we have in comparison to American companies is that here it’s possible to perform clinical studies with cannabis products, so sometimes American companies call us to collaborate on clinical studies” says Koren.
As for Cannabics SR, he says, “This is just the first step, to put one product on the shelf to start making revenue. Our ultimate goal, however, is to research and develop novel therapeutics for debilitating ailments like cancer and inflammatory bowel disease, for where there is evidence that cannabis can have significant effects, but nobody knows how to exploit those properties yet.”