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Innovative Biotechnology Companies are Transforming Cannabis-based Medical Products

Posted: 1st November 2017 10:50

Many biotech companies are taking advantage of widespread interest and acceptance of the potential for cannabis-based products to treat a range of medical disorders. These forward-thinking companies are developing proprietary systems and delivery methods to drive their research and development programs for a leading position in industry breakthroughs. Chief among them is InMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CSE: IN) (OTC: IMLFF) (IMLFF Profile), which has made groundbreaking progress in the pre-clinical research and development of cannabinoids with its innovative proprietary biosynthesis process. One of the most established companies in this field, GW Pharmaceuticals plc (NASDAQ: GWPH), is a world leader in the development of orphan and non-orphan cannabinoid products to treat neurological conditions, while Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZYNE) is developing innovative cannabinoid therapeutics based on transdermal delivery mechanisms. While many biotechs rely on companies like Canopy Growth Corp. (OTC: TWMJF) (TSX: WEED) and Aurora Cannabis, Inc. (OTC: ACBFF) (TSX: ACB) as critical sources of the medical-grade cannabis needed to conduct their clinical research, InMed holds a unique position with its in-house capabilities.

Biotechs involved in the research, formulation, and testing of cannabis-based medical products from plant-based processes face the onerous regulatory processes imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The FDA's scrutiny against such products stems from inconsistencies in active ingredient strength and quality, both of which may vary from one crop to the next. In addition, pesticides can be hard to remove, and crop fluctuations can affect yield. Producers are also often strained by the time, effort, and expense, not to mention chemical waste, required to manage high-yield cannabis crops.

Several biotechs have turned to chemical processes to produce synthetic cannabinoids which can deliver consistent outcomes every time, thereby overcoming some of these concerns and greatly increasing their prospects of gaining FDA approval. However, synthetic production can be expensive and can present potential safety issues. It is difficult to synthesize compounds that are identical to their natural counterparts, as the slightest structural variations can affect the quality and safety of the finished product.

A company that has developed a game-changing technology to bridge the best of both the natural and the synthetic manufacturing benefits is InMed Pharmaceuticals (CSE: IN) (OTCQB: IMLFF). Using an E. coli-based expression system, InMed has taken the lead by developing a biosynthesis process that uses cannabinoid DNA to create, in a controlled laboratory setting, compounds that are identical to those found in nature.

The company is the world's first known company to utilize this biosynthesis manufacturing technique to create a biosynthetic cannabinoid for the treatment of glaucoma. Using this cannabinoid, InMed has formulated a hydrogel as a drug delivery mechanism for the eye condition. Normally, eyedrops are used to treat glaucoma through several applications a day. Conversely, the company's medicated hydrogel forms a film over the eye and only needs to be applied once, at bedtime, to stay in place all night. InMed's pharmaceutical-grade biosynthetic cannabinoids are identical to those found in nature and are more than 95% pure. They contain none of the mind-altering chemical in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and are therefore free of any psychoactive properties.

Announcing a study co-sponsored by the University of British Columbia, InMed earlier this week achieved another industry first. The InMed-UBC study ( is the first ever to report hydrogel-mediated cannabinoid nanoparticle delivery to the eye resulting in enhanced drug uptake via the cornea and lens.

"Importantly, this study offers further validation of InMed's capabilities in moving the science of cannabinoid pharmaceuticals forward," InMed president and CEO Eric A. Adams stated in a press release. "Results like this, combined with our expanding patent portfolio and list of publications, on-going R&D, and renowned scientific team and collaborators demonstrates our depth of know-how and supports our trajectory to becoming an industry leader." The breakthrough that this achievement represents positions biosynthesis as the technology of the future for cannabinoid production across the board.

Companies, like InMed, that use biosynthesis for cannabinoid production can produce all of the active ingredients needed for their drugs in-house, eliminating the huge expenses of cannabis growing facilities and addressing other concerns. By eliminating the need for fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture-based processing, biosynthesis is also a more eco-friendly and less harmful production methodology.

By leveraging its proprietary systems for bioinformatics and biosynthesis, InMed retains full control over its systems and processes, making it far easier to predict clinical outcomes. The company is scaling up its manufacturing process to complement its biosynthetic cannabinoid development program and to accommodate other biotech's in their cannabinoid-based medical product developments. On September 12, 2017, InMed announced ( its filing of an application for a provisional patent covering its proprietary biosynthesis program, positioning the company for eventual protection of its technology in international jurisdictions.

With market capitalization of over $2.7 billion as of October 20, 2017, GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH) is a global leader in the development of plant-based cannabinoid therapeutics. Its primary focus to date has been on the development of cannabinoid products for the treatment of neurological conditions, including certain epilepsy syndromes. The company developed the world's first cannabis-based prescription drug for the treatment of spasticity as a result of multiple sclerosis. GW has other product candidates in its development pipeline, including formulations for the treatment of glioma and schizophrenia.

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ZYNE) focuses on the development of transdermal delivery methods for synthetic cannabinoid therapeutics. The company's pipeline includes ZYN002, a patented gel containing synthetic cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, for transdermal delivery to patients with osteoarthritis and Fragile X syndrome. It is also targeted for adults with focal seizures. On September 28, 2017, company shares rocketed by 54% in afternoon trading following the announcement of positive results from mid-stage testing of ZYN002. Zynerba's other product in development, ZYN001, is a THC-based drug for the relief of pain associated with fibromyalgia and peripheral neuropathic indications.

Canopy Growth (OTC: TWMJF) (TSX: WEED) operates the largest cannabis growing greenhouses in the world, covering over 350,000 square feet. With a market cap of almost $2.2 billion as of October 20, 2017, the company supplies medical grade cannabis via one of its core brands, Bedrocan Canada, a branch of Netherlands-based Bedrocan International. Canopy places a high priority on producing consistent quality and providing a critical service to biotechs. The company's high-quality medical grade cannabis is used for clinical research in several countries in Europe. Via Bedrocan, Canopy Growth recently launched the EQUAL Study, one of the largest clinical studies of its kind, to assess the effects of medical cannabis use on quality of life.

Aurora Cannabis (OTCQX: ACBFF) (TSX: ACB), based in Canada, is another grower of medical grade cannabis with a smaller market cap of $814 million as of October 20, 2017. The company supplies both dried cannabis and high-margin cannabis oils. Registered physicians and patients are offered a portal by the company for the servicing prescriptions of their products. Growth in its customer base and the average price per gram of product sold were noted by Aurora as the reason for its fourth-quarter revenues of $5.9 million in 2017.

All of these companies show a commitment to developing innovative technologies and proprietary systems to drive their businesses. The success and growth of these enterprises indicate that the emerging cannabinoid-related medical product sector has a bright future.

For more information on InMed Pharmaceuticals, please visit: InMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CSE: IN) (OTCQB: IMLFF)

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