By: Brenda Neugent
A British drug company is looking to medical marijuana- or at least a derivative of it-to help treat a variety of different diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
The company, GW Pharma, is in the process of creating a collection of cannabinoid-based drugs, including one that takes aim at diabetes. The first of this type of drug the company has produced is Sativex, a nasal spray used to treat spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. Sativex has been okayed in eight countries, and is currently awaiting FDA approval in the United States.
The diabetes drug, GWP4204, is currently in its second phase of testing after a small but successful double-blind study. That study featured 62 type 2 patients who received various levels of the oral-administered drug or a placebo.
Those who took the drug experienced a variety of positive effects on diabetic-related symptoms, including:
• Reduced fasting glucose levels;
• Improved pancreatic beta cell function;
• Increased adiponectin, a protein that regulates glucose levels and the breakdown of fatty acids;
• Reduced systolic blood pressure;
• Reduced inflammation levels;
• Increased insulin sensitivity; and
• Increased levels of the hormone GLP-1, which plays a critical role in the secretion of insulin.
“We are very pleased that the promising results seen for GWP42004 in our pre-clinical research have been borne out in this first early proof of principle clinical trial,” said Dr. Stephen Writer, GW’s director of research and development.
“If larger studies confirm these findings, GWP42004 would have the potential to offer a novel orally-administered treatment option within one of the largest therapeutic areas where there still exist serious unmet medical needs,” added Dr. Garry Tan, a physician at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, and principal investigator of the study.