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11 November, 2013 - 09:42 By News Desk

Cannabis based brain cancer drug on trial

GW Pharmaceuticals CEO Justin Gover

Cambridge UK medical technology pioneer GW Pharmaceuticals has started trials of a cannabis-based drug designed to treat a notably aggressive form of brain tumour.

The company has begun a Phase 1b/2a clinical trial for the treatment of Recurrent Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). It is initially targeting the US and Europe with the drug.Glioma describes any tumour that arises from the glial tissue of the brain. GBM is a particularly aggressive tumour that forms from abnormal growth of glial tissue.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, GBM accounts for around 50 per cent of the 22,500 new cases of brain cancer diagnosed in the US each year.

Treatment options are limited and expected survival is a little over a year. GBM is considered a rare, or orphan, disease by the FDA in America and the European Medicines Agency. The new study follows years of pre-clinical research by GW in the field of glioma which suggests that cannabinoids could be a particularly effective potential treatment. Dr Stephen Wright, director of R & D at GW said: “We are very excited about moving this compound into further human study and for the prospects of cannabinoids as new anti-cancer treatments.

“This is GW’s first clinical study of cannabinoids as a potential treatment to inhibit tumour growth. We believe this clinical program demonstrates the flexibility and broad application of GW’s cannabinoid platform to treat significant, unmet therapeutic needs.”

Under CEO Justin Glover, GW is enjoying great commercial success across Europe with cannabis-based treatments for MS and sees cancer as a prime target area for its lead products.

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