UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals has entered into a strategic alliance with Professor Mike Cawthorne and the Clore Laboratory, University of Buckingham, to research the use of cannabinoids-chemical compounds derived from marijuana-in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Cawthorne has a global reputation for his research into treatments for type 2 and obesity. As Group Director for diabetes and obesity research at SmithKline Beecham, he led the research team that developed the drug Avandia (rosiglitazone), a commercially successful insulin sensitizer.
GW’s research on the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of type 2 has shown beneficial effects on levels of plasma insulin and on leptin and adiponectin, hormones that factor heavily in both the onset and the treatment of the disease. The research has also shown a reduction in overall levels of cholesterol, while increasing levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
As a result, the company has developed two cannabinoid-based drugs that have passed through Phase 1 clinical trials: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabidiol (CBD). GW reports that CBD has demonstrated potential beneficial effects on non-fatty liver disease and hypercholesterolemia, the condition in which there is an abnormal amount of cholesterol in cells and blood plasma-often a precursor to artherosclerosis.
THCV’s effects so far have included raising energy expenditure, a key element in blood glucose control. GW will combine both drugs in a Phase IIa trial of their effects in the treatment of fatty liver and dyslipidemia (disruption of lipid levels in the blood) in type 2 patients.
GW says the objectives of its alliance with Cawthorne include:
- Providing GW with a dedicated facility for undertaking pre-clinical pharmacologic studies of cannabinoids in the area of metabolic disease
- Providing GW with exclusive access to plant-based therapies under evaluation at the Clore Laboratory
- Supporting the pharmaceutical development of new GW cannabinoid medicines to address defined aspects of metabolic syndrome
- Getting expert advice from Cawthorne in the metabolic disease area