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Human Clinical Trials Using Medical Marijuana Could be Close in U.S.

Human Clinical Trials Using Medical Marijuana Could be Close in U.S.

Written by ι Stock Market Media Group Staff — April 16, 2013  

With more and more acceptance of medical marijuana here in the U.S., companies like Nuvilex, Inc. (OTCQB: NVLX), and research centers like the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco are pleased to see momentum building and opinions changing.  As Nuvilex’s subsidiary, Medical Marijuana Sciences, Inc., lays the groundwork to begin studying different forms of cancer, it may very well be work like that done by doctors at California Pacific Medical Center that helps lay the groundwork for the industry to conduct human clinical trials.

The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes by those patients suffering from cancer is nothing new.  However, the dramatic shift in opinion toward the drug in this country is new.  As we’ve reported before, a recent Pew Research Center poll showed for the first time in 44 years of polling on the topic, that a majority of Americans were in favor of legalizing marijuana.  This new shift could very well put pressure on those in Washington, D.C. and the remaining states that have not passed legislation legalizing marijuana or at the very least the compounds found in the drug that may prove vital to cancer research.

First in line at a shot at human clinical trials, could very well be a number of researchers at California Pacific Medical Center.  Much like Nuvilex’s subsidiary, they will initially utilize cannabidiol (CBD) as the basis for developing treatments for some of the deadliest forms of cancer.  The group of doctors at California Pacific Medical Center has been working for more than five years studying cannabidiol which is one of the compounds found in Cannabis.  CBD is non-toxic and unlike THC, it is not psychoactive which could very well gain it favor among the drug’s detractors.

Two of the researchers involved in the study using CBD, Sean McAllister, Ph.D., and Pierre Desprez, Ph.D., both believe their work is ready for human trials, using the compound to treat metastatic cancer.  Their efforts have produced a synthetic version of cannabidiol, which targets a specific gene in the body related to the spread of cancer.

Dr. Pierre Desprez says, “We found this one compound, CBD, had a specific effect on metastatic cancer cells, very aggressive tumor cells.  The bad cancer cells, the ones that spread throughout the body.”

In their recently published study documenting the group’s work on brain cancer in a large scale animal trial, Dr. Sean McAllister said brain scans revealed the disruption of the tumor cells after the cannabidiol was used to switch off a specific gene regulator.  “We find when you treat with CBD, you down regulate the expression of this protein, and that inhibits the disease process.”

The group at California Pacific Medical Center believes so strongly in the future success of working with CBD, that they’ve prepared two clinical trial models that they hope to obtain funding for in the coming months.  Both models will study cancers in humans using CBD – one trial studying brain cancer, and the other studying breast cancer.

Nuvilex’s COO, Dr. Gerald Crabtree, agrees CBD seems to be the way to approach its work with the hard to treat cancers.  “We believe that the work done by the investigators at California Pacific Medical Center supports, in principle, our choice of CBD as the initial basis on which to develop treatments for two of the deadliest forms of cancer.  The finding by Drs. McAllister, Desprez and colleagues, that CBD is effective in inhibiting the spread, or metastasis of cancers, is particularly intriguing.  We will continue to follow their future efforts with the greatest of interest.”

Nuvilex established its subsidiary Medical Marijuana Sciences to study the medical applications of marijuana and will use its expertise, current research and its success in the biotechnology sector in an effort to make the subsidiary among the leaders in the industry.  Medical Marijuana Sciences will initially focus on pancreatic cancer and cancers of the brain – specifically glioblastomas. 

As Nuvilex prepares to enter a large-scale, late-stage trial with its living cell encapsulation- ifosfamide combination in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, Dr. Crabtree is hopeful their work in medical marijuana research using CBD can complement the results found by the group at California Pacific Medical Center.

In commenting further, Dr. Crabtree stated, “Would the addition of a cannabinoid-based treatment to the company’s treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer already being studied result in an even greater length of survival than that reported for our cell encapsulation-ifosfamide combination pancreatic cancer treatment alone?  At least, it may be possible to treat the pain and cachexia, or ‘wasting’ syndrome, often associated with advanced cancers through the use of cannabinoids.”

Those suffering from these deadly forms of cancer must be elated at the shift in this country to legalize marijuana, and now the pressure is definitely on lawmakers to take a deeper look into the science versus solely looking at the criminalization of marijuana usage.  Companies, research centers and universities are close to finally moving forward with research and even clinical trials that will likely prove this shift should have come many years ago.

Dr. Crabtree is excited to see the shift as it means companies like Nuvilex can roll up their sleeves and get to work in this arena.  “As more states legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, it facilitates more our planned pursuit of treatments for serious and deadly diseases, like pancreatic and brain cancers that use components of cannabis.”