The market for medical cannabis is changing form. If in the past the focus was on cultivating the plants and exploiting them for recreational purposes, today the focus is on the scientific side in the wake of numerous studies proving the medical benefits of the plant, its effectiveness, and the therapeutic potential of its components against a wide variety of diseases and symptoms. In addition, regulation in many countries (particularly the USA, Canada, and European countries) is changing and moving toward legalization of cannabis products for prescription according to medical indications.
Active in Israel – considered the leading country in research, development, and use of cannabis for medical purposes – is One World Cannabis Ltd., an Israeli subsidiary of OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp. The latter is a publicly owned corporation, traded over the counter, which promotes pioneering and ground-breaking medical research in cannabis-based pharmaceuticals.
OWC was founded in 2014. The company discerned the worldwide trend, the clinical and research need, and the marketing potential, and was one of the first to construct a long-term strategy focusing on the medical/research market.
The company leads medical studies and clinical experiments for innovative cannabis-based products and therapies, and it develops unique systems for delivery and dosage in treatment of diseases and of various medical conditions, including multiple myeloma, skin diseases such as psoriasis, and diseases accompanied by chronic pain.
The company’s research is conducted at Israel’s largest and foremost medical centers and scientific institutes, by teams of scientists with many years of proven experience in research, treatment, administration, and regulation. The team of scientists includes Dr. Stanley Hirsch, the company’s chairman; Dr. Oron Yacoby Zeevi, its chief scientific officer; Prof. Yuval Ramot, a senior dermatologist and head of the psoriasis clinic at Hadassah Medical Center; and Dr. Yehuda Baruch, father of cannabis regulation in Israel and a pioneer in research of cannabis for medical use in Israel.
OWC operates under approval from the Medical Cannabis Unit of Israel’s Ministry of Health and in compliance with international regulatory standards. Despite its relatively short history, the company can lay claim to impressive achievements in the fields of research and intellectual property, with more than 30 patents applied for in various countries around the world.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, making up 1% of all cancer cases and 2% of all cancer fatalities. Each year, 500 new cases are diagnosed in Israel (and some 30,000 new cases in the USA), and the numbers grow constantly.
The study performed by OWC showed impressive results from in-vitro experiments. A certain combination of THC and CBD was found effective in killing multiple-myeloma cells – without harming the healthy cells. It was also found that when that combination of cannabinoids was added to a familiar medication administered to sufferers from the disease, the effect was synergetic (that is, greater than the total of effects from administering each component by itself).
On the basis of the results received, OWC is developing a new formulation to be administered by a unique delivery method not yet existing in the medical cannabis market. In a pre-clinical experiment recently performed on animals, the maximum dosage was determined and found safe for use; it is possible to administer a minimum of relatively strong treatments as necessary for combating the disease.
The company continues development work in anticipation of initial clinical trials, for progress on a pharmaceutical track and eventual submission for FDA approval.
Also in development at OWC is a cream based on a high concentration and unique combination of active ingredients from the cannabis plant and intended for external application against various inflammatory skin diseases and particularly psoriasis.
The company has completed pre-clinical research on a model of human skin tissue, with results showing a significant drop in the parameters that characterize psoriasis (such as multiplication of skin cells and expression of inflammatory factors), and demonstrated the possibility of effectively treating the disease’s clinical and aesthetic aspects.
Safety tests of the cream on healthy volunteer subjects, held at one of the large hospitals in central Israel, will soon be completed. Interim results demonstrate that the cream is safe for use and works on the skin at the local level; that is, there is no penetration of cannabinoids into the bloodstream and therefore no risk of psychoactive side effects.
The company is preparing for tests of effectiveness on psoriasis patients at one of Israel’s medical centers, as a further step toward receiving authorization to market this product to psoriasis patients in Israel, in Europe, and in other markets. The cream is currently authorized and targeted for marketing in the US and Canada, countries where the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been legally permitted and approved.
OWC has developed a tablet that dissolves under the tongue, enabling quick absorption of cannabinoids directly into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes of the mouth. The tablet contains a high concentration of cannabinoids, in various ratios and in exact dosages, for treatment of a variety of diseases and medical conditions.
Because of the dangers of smoking, and the bothersomeness of the smoke and of the odor for the patient and in the patient’s surroundings, the tablet is intended as a substitute for smoking cannabis, among other purposes. In addition, and more importantly, it makes possible the administration of an exact dosage of cannabinoids, unlike other methods of delivery prevalent in today’s market.
The company has completed development of the tablet and intends to begin clinical research during the first half of 2019 in order to examine the tablet’s safety of use and the profile of cannabinoids in the bloodstream after sublingual administration in comparison to other cannabinoid-carrying preparations that have been approved for use in various countries. These studies are milestones in the development of cannabis-based treatments for various diseases, and they are attracting the attention of researchers and investors around the world.
According to the company’s CEO in Israel, Mordechai Bignitz, “Though it’s relatively new, the company is leading some ground-breaking research in treatments by medical cannabis, with the patients and their welfare always in mind. The company also intends to broaden its product portfolio as it enters research cooperation and business cooperation with large pharmaceutical companies and to launch its products through the medical cannabis route and the FDA route.