Despite the fire-breathing from Attorney-General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, there is a distinct feeling that marijuana has entered the mainstream now that Goldman Sachs has initiated coverage on GW Pharma (NASDAQ: GWPH). GW Pharma is the biopharmaceutical that developed the cannabinoid-derived Sativex to treat spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS), now approved by regulatory authorities in 29 countries. The success of GW Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies focused on cannabinoid research has produced an exciting new field with a lot of promise, cannabis biotech, and InMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CSE: IN) (OTCQB: IMLFF) is staking a position in that emerging market. The Vancouver, Canada-based outfit is a pre-clinical stage biopharmaceutical company that is currently testing cannabinoid derivatives to treat epidermolysis bullosa and glaucoma and a full pipeline of other drug candidates.
Cannabinoids are turning out to be big business. GW Pharma presently has a market cap of around $3.0 billion, yet Goldman Sachs, in that initial report, intimated the company might be worth more. It set a target price of $189 on the stock, currently trading at just above $116, which would value the company at close to $5 billion. GW Pharma is set to file a New Drug Application (NDA) with the FDA in the first half of 2017 for Epidiolex, the company’s cannabis-based treatment for rarer forms of epilepsy.
Axim Biotechnologies, Inc. (OTCQB: AXIM) is another player showing value. The company owns the patent for chewing gum as a delivery method for cannabinoids, which it has developed into two separate products. Its current market cap is about $500 million. Cara Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CARA), meanwhile, is researching therapies that target the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid (CB) receptors. Its most advanced CB compound, CR701, is in preclinical development. The company’s market value is about $556 million. Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZYNE) has a different focus. This biotech is studying synthetic cannabinoid therapeutics across multiple therapeutic areas. It has a market cap of over $220 million.
Research into the properties of cannabis was galvanized after Raphael Mechoulam and Yehiel Gaoni first isolated delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in 1963. Then, cannabinoid research became an even more exciting area of scholarship in 1992 when the first endocannabinoid, anandamide, was discovered. An endocannabinoid is a cannabinoid that is manufactured by the body. The fact that our bodies were producing the very same substances found in cannabis raised some very interesting questions.
Now we know that residing within most life forms (basically everything on our planet with the exception of insects) there is an extensive molecular signaling network known as the endocannabinoid system, which controls many functions. It has been said that ‘the endocannabinoid system is possibly the single-most important system within our entire bodies – responsible for maintaining homeostasis’ (http://dtn.fm/8Q5dt). Consequently, the aim of much cannabinoid research has been to provide cannabinoids to the body when, for one reason or another, the body fails to provide adequate quantities.
Presently, InMed Pharmaceuticals has two promising drug candidates undergoing pre-clinical trials. The first, INM-750, is for the treatment of a rare genetic connective tissue disorder called epidermolysis bullosa (EB), which affects roughly one out of every 20,000 births in the United States. There is an estimated patient population of about 25,000 with this condition in the U.S. alone. Globally, the market potential is about $1.0 billion.
The second drug, INM-085, treats glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness. INM-085 works by reducing the elevated intra-ocular pressure that is often associated with glaucoma. The National Institutes of Health estimates that more than three million Americans currently have glaucoma, and that the disease has blinded more than 120,000. INM-085 has a global market potential of close to $6.0 billion. Cannabinoid research is proving to be a truly exciting field.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.InMedPharma.com
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