Can CBD Help to Treat Glioblastoma Multiforme?
May 21st, 2019
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Medical researchers are trying to play catchup after decades of prohibition from conducting research on cannabinoids. Early research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD), one of the most prevalent cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, could have numerous health benefits. CBD has been proposed or utilized as a treatment for epilepsy, PTSD, sleep disorders, inflammatory conditions, and side effects from chemotherapy – just to name a few. While there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of success treating a wide range of medical conditions, researchers are still determining what’s really possible with CBD and robust clinical trials remain few and far between.
Cardiol Therapeutics Inc. (TSX: CRDL) (OTC: CRTPF) is a leader in the research and development of CBD-based pharmaceutical therapies and is diving headlong into the search for an effective treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). GBM is the most common form of malignant brain tumor and carries with it an average survival rate of less than one year. The disease has received its share of headlines as it led to the recent deaths of Sen. John McCain and Tragically Hip lead singer Gordon Downey. Cardiol is advancing a drug candidate, CRxIMT, that combines CBD with an immunotherapy-based approach for the treatment of GBM.
Anti-Tumor Properties of Cannabinoids
A small clinical study published in 2006 showed that 2 of 9 brain cancer patients demonstrated a decrease of tumor cell proliferation following administration of THC. Since then, a number of in vivo/in vitro studies have been conducted. All of the studies (35 in total) summarized in the linked review found that cannabinoids demonstrated anti-tumoral activity or anti-tumoral evidence. The effects range from slowing the rate of proliferation to killing cancer cells to limiting the metastatic spread of cancer.
Those wishing to dive deeper into the technical aspects and scientific descriptions of the studies are encouraged to investigate the links above. There is a lot of information with references to a number of studies. The upshot is that there is ample evidence of cannabinoids, especially CBD and THC, limiting the growth and spread of brain cancer. Another important takeaway – cannabinoids have been shown to be completely safe and to have no negative impact on healthy tissues. This is in stark contrast to the current standard of care, which includes a mix of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy (none of which has been shown to be curative).
Cardiol Therapeutics is combining the anti-tumor effects of cannabinoids with the demonstrated potential of immunotherapy in its search for an effective GBM treatment. The company has developed a patent-pending cancer therapeutic platform based on this combined approach and is starting with GBM, while eyeing other forms of cancer for further research. GBM is an orphan indication, meaning that it is a rare and untreatable disease, and drug candidates for its treatment are eligible for assistance from the FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development. The Office provides a grant program and tax incentives intended to help defray the costs of drug development for the treatment of rare diseases.
Cardiol believes the combination of immunotherapy and cannabinoids holds great promise. Cannabinoids may be able to decrease the immunosuppressive environment of a brain tumor, thereby improving the effectiveness of the tumor-killing actions of the immunotherapeutic regimen. The two approaches may work through different pathways to achieve a synergistic treatment that could be more effective than relying solely on either technique.
Cardiol’s Other Initiatives
Cardiol Therapeutics is simultaneously developing a number of potential treatments for heart failure, including one based on CBD. Heart failure is a leading cause of hospitalization, affecting more than 6 million people in the U.S. and Canada and costing more than $30 billion annually in the U.S. alone.
Cardiol utilizes a patented nanotherapeutic technology to deliver its active ingredients effectively and efficiently to the target tissue. The encapsulation hides the active lipophilic and hydrophobic (fat-loving and water-averse) ingredients in a hydrophilic shell, allowing cannabinoids and other similar pharmaceutical actives to circulate in the blood’s water-based environment. This technology potentially resolves many of the issues surrounding the bioavailability and deliverability of cannabinoid-based drugs.
Cardiol is also branching out into the world of medical cannabis treatments. In response to a pervasive and persistent shortage of CBD oil in the Canadian market, the company has near-term plans to launch its pharmaceutical CBD product across Canada. In essence, there is a huge spike in demand for CBD oil that took producers and provincial officials by surprise with no end in sight to the drastic shortage. According to Ray Gracewood, Chief Commercial Officer for OrganiGram, “The reality of the production environment is that cannabis takes a certain amount of time to grow within our facility and therefore it takes us some time to adapt to changes within forecasting.” OrganiGram is a Licensed Producer that is one of a very few that are currently able to provide CBD oil, according to the linked CBC article.
Cardiol does not rely on the cultivation of cannabis or hemp for its pharmaceutical ultra-pure CBD oil. Rather, the company has partnered with large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturers Dalton Pharma Services and Noramco, Inc. to synthesize CBD oil on an industrial scale. The opportunity is large, and Cardiol appears ready to meet the challenge.
Cardiol also brought on Thomas Moffatt as Chief Commercial Officer to lead the rollout. Mr. Moffatt is an experienced senior executive with 20 years served at Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada’s leading drug store retailer. Most recently, he was Chief Operating Officer at Rx Drug Mart. His experience will play a central role in the success of Cardiol’s ambitious pharmaceutical CBD plans.
Altogether, Cardiol Therapeutics offers an intriguing opportunity at the intersection of cannabinoid technology and pharmaceutical development. Combining the long-term promise of cannabinoid drugs with the shorter-term revenue potential of CBD sales, the company is uniquely positioned in the burgeoning field of cannabis science.
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