GW Pharmaceuticals is expanding its cannabinoid therapeutics research in the areas of type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease through a strategic alliance with the University of Buckingham’s Clore Laboratory and the laboratory’s director of metabolic research, Mike Cawthorne, Ph.D.
As part of the alliance, a section of the Clore Laboratory is being renamed the GW Metabolic Research Laboratory, providing GW with a dedicated facility for preclinical pharmacological studies of cannabinoids in the area of metabolic disease. GW will also have exclusive access to plant-based therapies being evaluated at the Clore Laboratory.
“I am particularly encouraged by the results of preclinical studies performed to date on GW cannabinoids and see exciting potential for the development of new treatments in the field of type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders,” says Dr. Cawthorne. He was previously group director for diabetes and obesity research at SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) and led the research team that discovered the diabetes drug Avandia.
GW’s two lead clinical-stage cannabinoid candidates in the field of diabetes and metabolic disease are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabidiol (CBD). GW maintains combining the drugs could potentially address a number of components of metabolic syndrome. Both THCV and CBD have completed Phase I trials, and the company is now preparing to start a Phase IIa study evaluating a combination of THCV and CBD in the treatment of dyslipidaemia and fatty liver in type 2 diabetic patients. A decision on when to start the trial will be made during 2009.
GW’s flagship drug is the cannabinoid oral spray, Sativex®. In May 2009 GW filed for approval of the product in the U.K. and Spain as a treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Sativex was first approved in Canada during 2005 for use in the symptomatic relief of neuropathic pain in MS and in 2007 as adjunctive analgesic treatment in cancer patients. Sativex is currently undergoing late-stage clinical development in Europe and the U.S. and is available on a named-patient basis in the U.K.
In Canada, Sativex is marketed by Bayer HealthCare, which will also market the drug in the U.K. if sanctioned. If approval comes through in Europe and the U.S., Sativex® will be marketed by Almirall and Otsuka, respectively, excluding the U.K.
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