An American-Israeli biotech team is taking cannabis research to the next level by developing novel therapies using cannabis extract to treat diabetes, inflammatory conditions, chronic pain and cardiovascular disease.

ISA Scientific just signed a deal with Yissum, the technology-transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hadasit, the technology-transfer company of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, and the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research (KIR) in the United Kingdom to help bring the drugs to market.

All the credit for the idea, however, goes to a Hebrew University researcher who has worked on idea for years.

“Raphael Mechoulam deserves all the credit for this,” fellow researcher Chaim Lotan of Hadassah University Medical Center said.

Mechoulam discovered that cannabidiol (CBD) receptors existed not only in the brain but in other tissues found throughout the body.

Knowing this, he then went to work finding a way to alter cannabinoids to work on certain areas of the body.

“He synthesized a whole ‘family’ of cannabinoids, and therefore with some changes in molecular structure you can tailor cannabinoids to different receptors,” Lotan said.

Lotan, a cardiologist, helped work on making a drug for the heart.

“My role was only the cardiac part,” he explained “but we may see effects in other organs as well since we found so many receptors.”

The team is now ready for Phase 2 trials of the drug for diabetes and chronic pain and is hopeful that the drug, which has now psychoactive properties at all, will ultimately provide a solution that may not only manage diabetes but perhaps even cure the widespread disease.

“Unlike insulin and other existing medications for diabetes, CBD may actually suppress, reverse and perhaps cure the disease,” ISA Scientific Chief Executive Officer Mark J. Rosenfeld said. “So, the therapeutic alternatives offered by cannabis chemistry could go far in helping to resolve conditions responsible for a huge public health crisis in China and elsewhere.”

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