A team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led by none less than Professor Raphael Mechoulam, has secured more than $2m funding to develop cannabis-based cures for specific forms of cancer. The cancers targeted are melanoma (skin cancer), neuroblastoma (neural system cancer), and glioblastoma (brain cancer).
All three cancers are usually treated with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
Mechoulam, commonly known as The Father of Cannabis Research, is leading the research team and has involved Tel Aviv based medical marijuana producer Cannbit, who funded the research with $400,000 as well as paid an additional $2,000,000 for a 25-year exclusive commercial license for the medicine over the duration of its patent.
Other, future, partners will share 13% of all research and sale revenue, as well as future IP from this research project.
The announcement of the research earlier this week, followed shortly upon Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute announcement about the discovery of potential cannabis-based treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Mechoulam, who first discovered endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids in 1963, and whose team first isolated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) is a firm believer in the power of medical marijuana and confident that cannabis can contribute to many future treatments.
”Cannabidiol is clinically tested for a disease called GVHD (Graft versus host disease). In certain diseases, mostly cancer, the bone marrow has to be replaced and the replacement of the bone marrow causes the body to attack the bone marrow and the new bone marrow then attacks the body. Then in many cases, the patient is sick, sometimes very sick.”
This a kind of autoimmune disease. Cannabidiol is an excellent drug in treating this. I was slightly involved in this research. Chances are, we will have Cannabidiol as a treatment for diseases affecting bone marrow that needs to be replaced.”
In the same interview, he shared his rather surprising experience with the Big Pharma, and their interest in cannabis-based solutions.
” Big Pharma is apparently, at the moment at least, not very interested because there are no patents,” he continued. “And without the patent, they don’t want to spend money on something that they cannot get a return from on their investment.”
— Professor Raphael Mechoulam
He also shared how he got hold of hashish to research on in the 60s. Five kilo at a time.
”I always went to the ministry of health, they gave me a letter to the police, went to the police and drank some coffee with them, took the hashish I needed and that was it.”
This seems almost reminiscent of how the FBI and Big Tobacco collaborated in the 70s when Big Tobacco was looking into creating cannabis cigarettes. The DOJ Drug Science chief Milton Joffre promised to deliver Philip Morris “good quality”.
The Israeli medical marijuana sector is actively soliciting investment and has also met with a Chinese delegation earlier this year. China, of course, is one of the world’s leading hemp producers and could supply Israel with vast amounts of hemp, or CBD, sufficient to develop medicine on mass scale.
The investment by CannBit is yet another statement of intent of the Israeli medical marijuana sector which, once again, wishes to position itself at the forefront of cannabis research again.
And it seems that even The Father of Cannabis Research is still motivated to be a leading and driving force, once again.