Image Source: Forbes
New evidence has emerged that cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), a natural chemical compound found in cannabis plants of which cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, are mere derivatives, can be far more potent than the cannabinoids themselves.
It’s true since it was none other than the “father of cannabis research”, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who revealed this in his latest discovery a few months ago.
The professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem led the team of scientists at EPM, a US-based global biotechnology company (that he co-founded) to develop a synthetic, acid-based cannabinoid compound. According to Dr. Mechoulam, this synthetic compound is not only stable but can potentially be far more effective than CBD or THC, that too, with no adverse effects.
Named “cannabidiolic acid methyl ester” (or EPM301), this newly patented compound has kicked up quite a storm in the cannabis industry and generated a ripple effect on the future of medicine as well.
So far, owing to its highly unstable nature, cannabidiolic acid had been kept outside the purview of the pharmaceutical industry, despite its potential. This acid, found only in the living cannabis plants, is apparently rather difficult to isolate and preserve. With this latest discovery, however, the possibilities of utilizing this plant-based acid in the mainstream drug industry seem more and more likely!
How EPM301 Came to Be
After years of experimentation, scientists at EPM, led by Dr. Mechoulam, found that the simple process of esterification, commonly used in organic chemistry, could alter the original acid’s structure (CBDA) just enough to stabilize it for potential largescale use in the pharmaceutical industry.
The scientists found the process is so efficient and the product so stable that they decided that it can be utilized for further experiments as well as applied in mainstream medicine on a large scale.
Speaking to Forbes in a recent interview, EPM CEO Reshef Swisa and Dr. Mechoulam revealed the details of their revolutionary journey and EPM301’s significance to the pharmaceutical industry.
Highlighting on EPM’s initiative in this discovery, Dr. Mechoulam said: “…while everybody is discussing THC and CBD, these cannabinoids are actually secondary substance(s)…Originally, there is an acid that appears in the plant…that (is) much more potent than cannabinoids (CBD, THC).”
Speaking on the process used to alter CBDA’s structure, EPM CEO Reshef Swisa said: “We took cannabidiol acid and…stabilized it by a simple chemical procedure, called esterification…”
After prolonged experimentation on this synthetic compound, the scientists at the biotech company realized that “this particular compound causes suppression of anxiety and suppression of nausea.”
Swisa added that, like cannabinoids, this new compound could make a big difference in the lives of cancer patients on chemotherapy, besides those suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or Psoriasis.
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam’s Remarkable Contribution
It was Dr. Mechoulam, who, back in the 1960s, discovered the human endocannabinoid system and the existence of phytocannabinoids – discoveries that led to our current understanding and utilization of cannabis products for medicinal purposes.
The latest discovery by the 88-year-old researcher now places cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) above all cannabinoids as a potent compound — with no known adverse effects.
Talking about the motivation behind his research, the professor said: “We badly need new drugs in several diseases…some of the drugs…available may be pretty good, but they ultimately cause side effects.”
He was referring to pharmaceutical drugs derived from non-natural sources, particularly steroids and opioids that often cause dependence, addiction, among other adverse effects, and insisted on the need for safer and effective alternatives.
EPM301’s Potential in the Pharma Medicine Industry
Speaking on the possibility of placing EPM301 as a substitute to steroids and opioids in the pharma industry, Dr. Mechoulam explained: “We compare our compound not only to cannabinoids but to the existing drugs that are applied today.
“…for example, in IBD, we compared our compound to two conventional products – prednisone (steroids) and another is a biological drug. In both, we managed to prove that the activity of our compound is very similar to the common one…I sincerely hope that…we will have, within the next few years, a cannabidiolic acid derivative on the market in parallel to CBD itself.”
As a fair warning, he, however, pointed to the need for the proper classification and regulation of drugs for medical use, as consumers often “confuse (products meant for) recreational use with the medicinal use” owing to the lack of due regulation and “consistency in language”.