Most people can only name one or two cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), but there are over 100 different cannabinoids within the cannabis plant. While a lot of research is focused on the effects of individual cannabinoids, emerging evidence suggests that there may be important synergies between these cannabinoids. New therapeutics that combine cannabinoids in innovative ways could dramatically improve outcomes.
In this article, we will take a look at why cannabinoids work best together and how companies like GB Sciences Inc. (OTCQB: GBLX) are taking advantage of these dynamics.
Researches have started to notice that cannabinoids tend to have an ‘entourage effect’, which means they tend to work better when combined rather than in isolation.
THC-only pharmaceuticals, like Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone), have experienced limited efficacy. In fact, less than 2% of patients in a 2011 survey preferred THC-only pharmaceuticals over inhaled or infused delivery methods. CBD-only therapies have proven much more beneficial – particularly with conditions like epilepsy – but emerging evidence has shown that combinations of these cannabinoids could be even more beneficial.
Dr. Than Russo, M.D., a neurologist who has become an expert in cannabinoids, notes many of these synergies in his study “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects”, which details many cannabinoid interactions.
There are also over 100 other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that work together to reach therapeutic goals. For example, CBC is the third most common cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and works with THC to fight inflammation. THCv is another cannabinoid that has been shown to mitigate some of the negative psychoactive impacts of THC. These kinds of combinations could produce safer and more effective therapies targeting many conditions.
Taking a Holistic Approach
GB Sciences has embraced the complexity of both the cannabis plant and endocannabinoid system. By taking a holistic approach, the company aims to leverage the natural interactions between hundreds of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals within the cannabis plant on many different receptors within the endocannabinoid system. These targets are identified using a high-throughput screening system that incorporates cellular and animal models of disease, as well as in silico experiments run with sophisticated algorithms.
Recently, the company filed a series of patents covering cannabinoid-containing complex mixtures, addressing areas like neuronal protection (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, etc.) and inflammation (arthritis, IBS, Crohn’s, asthma, etc.). The company also licensed an existing patent from Makai Biotechnology covering therapeutic methods for the treatment of cardiac hypertrophy and associated pathologies of the cardiovascular system.
With these patents in place, GB Sciences recently engaged a California-based contract research organization that will help complete pre-clinical trials on animals, file an Investigational New Drug application to begin human testing, and conduct its first human clinical trials. These efforts will accelerate the time-to-market and ensure that the company is adhering to best practices when executing clinical trials covering these enormous multi-billion dollar markets with significant unmet needs.
Finally, the company is taking a very clinical approach to the market to ensure the highest levels of standardization for both safety and efficacy reasons. Its manufacturing facility features standardized cultivation and extraction techniques designed to produce products with refined clinical properties, and it is applying for ISO certification for the facility. These levels of standardization are necessary for regulatory approvals as it moves into clinical trials.
The cannabis plant is more complex than many people realize with hundreds of different cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytochemicals. The interactions between these different components are just now starting to be understood and could unlock significant therapeutic potential over the long run. GB Sciences Inc. (OTCQB: GBLX) aims to capitalize on these interactions and develop leading drugs targeting multi-billion dollar markets.
In the meantime, the company also owns and operates a licensed cultivation facility in Nevada that should help generate near-term revenue to offset its research and development costs while providing it with its own high-quality, standardized products for clinical trials.