Cannabis is often said to give people the munchies, even being used medicinally as an appetite stimulant. Now those properties have become the basis for a patent recently filed by India Globalization Capital (IGC) which, if approved, could lead to the use of phytocannabinoids as officially prescribable treatments for eating disorders such as anorexia and cachexia.
Cachexia is a condition that commonly stems from progressive illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV/AIDS. The decrease in gastrointestinal function that accompanies such disorders causes a wasting away of the body and weakness of muscles, with cancer-induced cachexia having been identified as the cause of death in approximately one out of every five cancer patients.
This month IGC filed a U.S. patent application based on a new therapy they’ve developed that uses a combination of cannabinoids and other drugs already approved by the FDA.
In a press release presented last week, IGC’s chief executive officer Ram Mukunda stated: "Securing FDA approval for combination therapies is generally much faster and less expensive than the process for new drug applications. As a result,” he added, “we believe that we can bring our cannabis-based pharmaceutical products to market in both an expeditious and cost-effective manner."
In preparation for this, IGC has assembled a phytocannabinoid development committee to review medical facilities in the U.S. and around the world as venues to perform preclinical and clinical trials. They’ve also developed a strategic alliance with International Pharma Trials, leveraging their expertise in nervous system disorders research and the FDA approval process.
IGC’s new combination therapy is expected to treat eating disorders with a reduction of side-effects typically caused by current monotherapies—a goal shared with two additional new therapy patents being developed by IGC to treat refractory epilepsy, and to treat neuropathic pain and arthritis. This could bode well for IGC, as pain relief is one of the largest segments of the global healthcare sector, representing roughly six billion dollars per year in the U.S. alone.
As for epilepsy, therapy research at IGC doesn’t end with humans. Seizures have been observed in dogs and cats as well, ranging from subtle to violent convulsions. Just like in humans, a seizure can often be an isolated event in pets, never occurring again within the pet’s lifespan. But in cases where pets suffer recurring seizures, treatment is needed to prevent the larger areas of the brain from being affected.
Existing pet seizure treatments such as phenobarbital and potassium bromide are known to cause side effects including anxiety, ataxia, and nausea—all of which have been mitigated in previous preclinical trials on mammals through the administration of cannabinoid therapies. To facilitate the development of pet-oriented combination treatments similar to their human-oriented therapies, IGC plans to conduct metabolic profiling and to apply to the FDA for trials.
They’re also currently engaging in information exchange with other research groups, doctors, and biotech companies working within the cannabis sector, and are additionally welcoming engagement with medical cannabis dispensaries, as well as producers and processors with expertise in producing strains that exhibit specific terpene profiles, and/or are rich in particular cannabinoids that may have pharmacological applications. IGC’s website emphasizes that they encourage related inquires, and that all inquiries will be kept confidential.
Although at the time of this writing no timeline has yet been defined for pet-oriented therapy trials, IGC’s established timeline sets trials for their human-oriented therapies to begin during 2017.