GW Pharmaceuticals plc, the company developing a portfolio of non-smoked, cannabis-based prescription medicines, has established an extensive research collaboration with Professor Raphael Mechoulam, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, one of the world’s leading cannabinoid scientists.
Under the agreement, signed with Yissum, the Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, GW has acquired the rights to a number of important cannabinoid patents invented by Professor Mechoulam. The company will be working closely with him and his team for the next three years to develop these new opportunities in furtherance of its scientific and commercial activities. The patents include inventions relating to cannabidiol (CBD), one of the cannabinoids on which GW’s research is focused, and endocannabinoids (cannabinoids found in the human body).
In collaboration with GW, Professor Mechoulam will be researching the pharmacology of the phytocannabinoids and the cannabinoid system in humans. He will also act as a consultant on GW’s research into synthetic cannabinoids (cannabinoids created in the laboratory).
Dr Geoffrey Guy, Executive Chairman of GW, said “Professor Mechoulam’s knowledge of cannabinoids is second to none and we are delighted to be building this relationship with him and his team. We look forward to an exciting and fruitful collaboration.”
Last year, GW established the Cannabinoid Research Institute (CRI) under the direction of Dr Philip Robson. The CRI is intended to consolidate the company’s position as a world leader in the development of cannabinoid medicines. In addition to Professor Roger Pertwee, GW’s Director of Pharmacology, Professor Mechoulam will become an integral member of GW’s primary research team at the CRI.
Professor Raphael Mechoulam is Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has been working on cannabinoid chemistry since the early 1960s. It was he who coined the term “cannabinoid”. In 1964, Professor Mechoulam’s laboratory first identified and synthesized delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), the main psychoactive component of cannabis. Since then, his team has gone on to identify the structure of most of the cannabinoids and metabolites and to discover the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG), which occur naturally in the body.
Professor Mechoulam is the author of more than 270 publications and an inventor on over 21 patents, including several synthetic cannabinoids. He is past president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS), which in 1999 established The R Mechoulam Award in Cannabinoid Research in his honour. He has received numerous prizes and honours from countries around the world in recognition of his achievements and outstanding contribution to the field of cannabinoid research.
Yissum is the research development company of the Hebrew University and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the university.