InMed Pharma Develops Scalable Approach to Cannabinoid Production
February 14th, 2017
The cannabis plant has been used for centuries for its therapeutic benefits, but researchers have only recently started to understand how it works in the human body. While tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) and cannabidiol (“CBD”) may be the most studied, there are 90+ other cannabinoids in the plant that could be valuable therapeutics with a relatively well-established safety profile given the plant’s history.
InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CSE: IN) (OTCQB: IMLFF) aims to leverage its innovative biosynthesis manufacturing technology to unlock the potential of these 90+ other cannabinoids by cost-effectively, safely and scalably producing them in a laboratory setting.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the problems associated with conventional grow-op based cannabinoid production and why the company’s breakthrough technology could unlock the potential for hundreds of clinical programs.
The biotech and pharmaceutical industries have struggled when it comes to developing cannabinoid-based therapeutics. While several states have legalized cannabis, the federal government continues to classify the drug as a Schedule I Controlled Substance that has no ‘currently accepted medical use’. By extension, any product isolated directly from the marijuana plant has been recognized as Schedule 1 by the DEA. Researchers have had only limited access to study the vast potential of the plant and its individual constituents, being forced to source cannabinoids from licensed third parties or acquire their own narcotics licenses.
The process of growing, harvesting, processing and purifying cannabinoids can be costly – time and resource intensive with several factors impacting quality control. While extraction of THC and CBD is economically feasible since they are far more prevalent in the plant (accounting for up to 90% of the total quantity of cannabinoids that can be extracted), the less common cannabinoids are very expensive due to their scarcity. Despite their potential in treating disease, it simply isn’t realistic to explore their use in pharmaceutical products due to their high cost.
Most ‘medical marijuana’ companies have focused on using the whole plant and/or extraction of oil mixtures, while pharmaceutical companies have focused their efforts on growing cannabis, extracting THC and CBD in their pure forms (>99%), and studying their effects on conditions like epilepsy and pain management. Unfortunately, these factors could be limiting the potential uses for the extensive number of cannabinoids in treating various serious medical conditions.
InMed Pharmaceuticals has taken a unique low-cost / high-yield approach to developing cannabinoid-based compounds for inclusion in their products. By utilizing the process currently employed to manufacture insulin for diabetes, the company’s strategy can scalably produce a wide range of cannabinoids beyond simply THC and CBD. These cannabinoids could have broad-reaching potential, but haven’t been studied extensively because they are difficult to extract from the cannabis plant at scale.
The company’s process begins by isolating the genes in the cannabis plant that are responsible for producing any specific cannabinoid compound. Next, these genes are injected into a bacteria that acts as a factory for producing those specific cannabinoids at scale. The company can then combine these various compounds to create unique therapies that target specific diseases with the specific cannabinoid(s) that delivers the desired effect.
Initial Areas of Focus
InMed Pharmaceuticals is initially targeting Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) and Glaucoma with specific cannabinoid compounds that have shown promise in early studies. EB is an orphan condition that has no currently approved treatments, which could pave the way for faster regulatory approvals and a dramatic improvement in patient quality of life. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Individually, each of these uses of InMed products represents billions of dollars in potential value for investors.
The company’s EB program, INM-750, is undergoing preclinical trials this year before advancing into Phase I and IIA clinical trials in 2018, Phase IIB trials in 2019, and Phase III trials by 2020. EB is a group of devastating, inherited connective tissue diseases that share a common manifestation of fragile skin blisters and open wounds across the entire body. The global market for the a successful therapeutic could be worth upwards of $1 billion per year.
The company’s glaucoma program, INM-085, targets a much larger global market worth over $5.6 billion with 2.7 million patients located in the United States alone. The condition is defined by abnormally high pressure in the eye leading to damage of the optic nerve and, eventually, blindness. Management anticipates beginning pre-clinical trials this year before progressing into later-stage trials over the coming years.
InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CSE: IN) (OTCQB: IMLFF) has developed a unique low-cost, high-yield biosynthesis approach to cannabinoid development. By doing so, the company aims to analyze the 90+ other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant other than THC and CBD for the treatment of many serious medical conditions. This manufacturing technology will provide the compounds needed to research and commercialize their internal product candidates; however, it is estimated that the market for CBD alone, as an ingredient for mixing into other products, will surpass $2B by 2020. This manufacturing capability could very well be a huge stand-alone business opportunity for InMed. The company’s promising technology and pipeline means that investors may want to take a closer look at the stock.
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