Medical cannabis developer Cann Global (ASX: CGB) has reported successful in vitro and in vivo trials of a unique cannabis strain to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis and possibly reverse damage caused by the disease.
Cann subsidiary Medical Cannabis Research Group Pty Ltd has an ongoing research funding agreement with renowned Israeli university Technion to investigate the use of cannabis in the treatment of auto immune diseases.
Under the terms of the 2018 agreement, MCRG will sponsor continued research into how the cannabis plant can be used for the treatment of MS.
The research is being conducted under the leadership of Professor David Meiri, who has identified a synergistic relationship between cannabis plants and the human genome.
Technion is widely considered to be the leading cannabis research lab globally with the ability to profile cannabinoid composition for a variety of strains and to purify single phytocannabinoids (including tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol) with suspect profiles for examination in different studies.
Technion researchers have been working to isolate and identify molecules within the strain which are responsible for a therapeutic effect, with the goal of creating a pharmaceutical product to safely treat MS without the side effects found in some current treatments.
During research over the past two years, the team has found a chemovar (or chemotype) to kill CD4 cells which have become destructive instead of productive, causing damage to the body.
CD4 (or T helper) cells are crucial in achieving a regulated effective immune response to pathogens, and are responsible for directly killing infected host cells, activating other immune cells, producing cytokines and regulating the immune response.
The research team has also been investigating if the same strain of cannabis may be effective in helping patients avoid or recover from the impact that a malfunctioning immune system may have in other diseases.
Executive chairperson Pnina Feldman said Cann is in discussions with Technion on a new set of clinical trials to test the theory in conjunction with Israel’s leading hospitals.
“We believe this is a great opportunity for Cann to be part of further research which may be of significance to global health,” she said.
“Scientists around the world have suggested different potential therapies to try and treat the immune system malfunction in auto immune diseases, but to date most of these have harmful side effects.
“We are proud to be backing a clinical trial focusing on a more natural compound which is proven to be safer for patients due to its extremely low levels of toxicity or side effects.”
Ms Feldman said the trials will be enabled by the Israeli government’s approval last month of exports of medical cannabis.
There are at least eight cannabis-growing companies operating in Israel, along with several others involved in production, marketing and distribution.
Israeli farms – benefiting from a favourable climate and expertise in medical and agricultural technologies – are among the world’s biggest producers of medical cannabis.
“Israel’s approval will allow us to facilitate the distribution of a cannabis product to treat MS and potentially other auto-immune diseases in Australia and internationally,” she said.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the ground-breaking research in the use of medical cannabis as a potential treatment for auto-immune diseases.”
She said Cann Global would be seeking large pharmaceutical investors or companies to partner in developing and commercialising the research.
In late-morning trade, shares in Cann Global were trading 14.29% higher at $0.008.