Pharmos' Dexanabinol Effective in Multiple Sclerosis Animal Model; Potential Therapeutic Efficacy of a Non-psychotropic Cannabinoid
Pharmos Corporation announced today that it has shown in a pre-clinical study that dexanabinol, a proprietary cannabinoid derivative the Company has developed, can suppress the pathological features of multiple sclerosis (MS). A collaborative study among the Company, the Multiple Sclerosis Center of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel showed that dexanabinol significantly reduced the functional and pathological brain defects in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the most widely used animal model of MS. These findings, recently published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology, follow a patent issued to Pharmos in August 1999 (US Patent No. 5,932,610) for the use of dexanabinol and its derivatives for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Dexanabinol, a synthetic cannabinoid derivative devoid of the undesirable psychotropic effects of natural cannabis derivatives, has proven to be safe in over fifty healthy volunteers and in a Phase II trial of severe traumatic brain injury. "The encouraging results in the MS animal model together with the compound's safety features in humans warrant a clinical trial of dexanabinol in patients with multiple sclerosis," said Dr. Haim Aviv, Pharmos' Chairman and CEO.
The use of dexanabinol circumvents certain legal and social challenges to the therapeutic use of marijuana by virtue of a configuration that avoids the psychotropic effects of natural cannabis. Developed by Pharmos, dexanabinol is based on chemistry invented by the world leader in cannabinoid chemistry, Professor Raphael Mechoulam of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Prof. Mechoulam received the 2000 "Israel Award" for science, one of the country's most prestigious awards.
MS is a disabling central nervous system disease in which nerve cells, apparently triggered by neuroinflammation, lose their insulating sheaths. MS onset occurs most frequently between the ages of 20 and 40 with about 250,000 to 350,000 cases occurring annually in the US. Scientists have demonstrated that chemical messengers ("transmitters") known to be involved in inflammation, including tumor necrosis factor, play a prominent role in MS. Dexanabinol, Pharmos' lead cannabinoid derivative, has the ability to inhibit brain inflammation and in particular the production of potent neuroinflammatory transmitters such as tumor necrosis factor. The inhibition of inflammatory mechanisms in the brain is likely to be central to any effective treatment of MS.
The fact that dexanabinol inhibits neuroinflammation and is also able to block cell-death cascades in the brain makes it a powerful agent for the treatment of other nervous system diseases in which neuroinflammatory cascades are involved, such as stroke, Parkinson's Disease and neuropathic pain. "Aided by our platform technologies of combinatorial chemistry and high throughput screening, we are now in an excellent position to develop optimal dexanabinol derivatives for the treatment of these common and frequently crippling disorders" said Dr. George Fink, Vice President Research of Pharmos.