Experiments with next-generation delivery systems appear certain to lead to better cannabis-based products.
Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CNSX:LXX.CN) (OTCQX:LXRP) (LXRP Profile) has recently seen spectacular improvements in the effectiveness of cannabinoids thanks to its proprietary chemical delivery treatment. GW Pharmaceuticals Plc (NASDAQ:GWPH) (OTC:GWPRF), which has won widespread praise for its innovative medical work, has seen good trial results for a new treatment for seizures. Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY) is supporting studies into the uses of cannabinoids to treat behavioral problems and HIV. MariMed Inc. (OTCQB:MRMD) has set up a subsidiary focused on CBD, currently the highest-profile cannabinoid product. Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ:CRON) (TSX:CRON.TO) has established a new research lab to develop devices for CBD consumption.
— Currently, cannabis medicines are poorly absorbed by the body.
— Delivery challenges increase costs and reduce effectiveness.
— Select companies are working on better delivery systems.
— Others are working on new medicines so that cannabinoids can improve more lives.
To view an infographic of this editorial, click here.
The Cannabinoid Waste Conundrum
The popularity of cannabinoid products — those containing active ingredients from cannabis — has created a challenge for producers. While these producers are extracting larger volumes of CBD from cannabis and hemp, much of the precious ingredient goes to waste: the human body only absorbs a small fraction of these molecules because of delivery system limitations and human physiology.
This delivery challenge causes several problems. Manufacturers must comply with regulations limiting the amount of active cannabinoid ingredients, but consumers may not be able to obtain the effect or benefit they are seeking, even when needed to overcome serious medical conditions. People could end up consuming more cannabis than they would otherwise, which is both expensive and ill-advised. And in an age when the waste of human society is ravaging the environment, it means that the cannabis industry may also be doing unneeded damage to the environment.
But thanks to the fast pace of cannabis research, a solution may be on the horizon.
Improving the Delivery of Cannabinoids
Across the industry, researchers are looking for ways to more effectively deliver CBD into the human body. Thanks to their latest breakthroughs, the scientists at Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CNSX:LXX.CN) (OTCQX:LXRP) appear to be leading the way.
A biotech company based in British Columbia, Lexaria is currently focusing on its proprietary DehydraTECH(TM) technology. This unique technology has been developed to make medicinal compounds more suitable for human consumption in a number of ways. By combining molecules such as CBD with fatty acids at a molecular level, DehydraTECH makes it easier for the CBD to cross the body’s internal barriers. Higher levels of CBD are absorbed, and they are absorbed more quickly.
Consumers need to know this: the quantity of CBD, or any other drug, in the bottle is unimportant. What matters is how much of that CBD actually reaches the bloodstream — and even more importantly — how much reaches the brain.
Most CBD sold in CBD-infused products in America today does not reach the bloodstream. CBD mixed in water and fed to animals demonstrated the incredible power of DehydraTECH. Results announced in May showed that DehydraTECH, in combination with generic nanotech techniques, delivered CBD to the brain 1,137% more efficiently than existing industry formulations. In addition, Lexaria’s patented DehydraTECH delivered CBD into the bloodstream in just two minutes and delivered as much CBD in 15 minutes as generic doses did in 60 minutes.
Not content with these sorts of results, the company has been working on improving the power of DehydraTECH through a new second-generation version called Enhanced DehydraTECH. Lexaria’s Enhanced DehydraTECH showed remarkable properties in crossing the blood-brain-barrier, delivering 1,937% more CBD into the brain than a generic industry formulation. It also delivered between 717% and 1,098% more CBD into the bloodstream than generic CBD formulations.
Lexaria’s technological advances make it possible to manufacture capsules and edible products that deliver CBD and THC more effectively than ever before.
Satisfying Customers and Regulators
This vastly superior delivery performance holds promise to radically change the CBD industry, at a time when the sector is already going through huge change and growth.
On one level, the benefits of technology such as that being developed by Lexaria are obvious. A more efficient delivery system can do one of two things: it can make the same dose of a drug or vitamin more effective, or it can allow the same consumer effect to be achieved with a smaller dose.
The latter approach may have the widest impact and certainly has potential to shift prices. Recent legal changes in Canada and the United States have led to a surge in demand for CBD, a demand that suppliers have been unable to meet. With demand for CBD outstripping supply and a production process that involves complex technical steps, the price of CBD is relatively high. But if companies can make products that are just as effective but use smaller amounts of CBD, they can reduce their production costs and provide more products with the same raw resources. This change would allow companies to meet currently unmet demand and reduce prices, thus benefitting both the customers and the industry.
There’s also a less-obvious factor, one that industry outsiders might not consider but that companies such as Lexaria are acutely aware of. With the legalization of cannabis across Canada and hemp in the United States, regulators are stepping in to control the production, sale and dosage amounts of CBD or THC products. Limits are being set on how much CBD or THC a product can contain.
Improved delivery systems such as DehydraTECH allow companies to produce more effective products within the same legal limits. Customers can experience the highest benefit from their products while everyone stays inside the law.
But while CBD is proving a profitable testing ground for DehydraTECH, the impact of this first-of-its-kind delivery system could potentially go far beyond this, extending into the wider medical sector.
Recent research results have shown that DehydraTECH is effective in delivering both cannabinoids and nicotine into brain tissue, thus improving the speed and effectiveness of these ingredients. The delivery system also comes with a fast-on/fast-off element, in which the effect of the drug both starts and ends quickly and clearly, providing better control over the use of the products in which drugs are used. DehydraTECH is being evaluated by the largest nicotine company in America for products utilizing oral delivery, bypassing the known disease conditions associated with current pulmonary delivery.
As a result, Lexaria’s technology already has potential medical benefits because it can be used to deliver CBD- and THC-based medicines, in addition to its applications as a solution to cigarette use. But what if it could do more?
Since DehydraTECH has been shown to work with multiple molecules, people are asking if it could be used with central nervous system drugs. By delivering drugs quickly and efficiently across the blood-brain-barrier, this innovative delivery system could enhance the speed and effectiveness of a wide range of drugs and potentially usher in a new era of treatment for a wide range of debilitating diseases. Lexaria has quietly filed patent applications for innovation in treatment options related to central nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimers.
Experimenting with Cannabis
Given the importance of cannabinoids in treating some of these debilitating diseases, improved delivery systems already have clear medical advantages. Among the companies applying cannabinoids to life-changing medicines is GW Pharmaceuticals Plc (NASDAQ:GWPH) (OTC:GWPRF). With more than 20 years of research in the cannabis sector, GW is a global leader in developing cannabinoid medicines and was named one of Time Magazine’s 50 genius companies for this work. The company recently announced successful clinical trials of EPIDIOLEX, in which this CBD drug was used to reduce the frequency of seizures associated with tubular sclerosis complex.
Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY), a world-leading cannabis company based in Canada, has been working to address the shortage of cannabis and CBD, investing $32.6 million in an expansion of its cultivation and manufacturing facilities. But the company isn’t just working on meeting current needs. Tilray is providing support to two clinical studies that could lead cannabinoids to transform more lives for the better. Through studies like these, the use of cannabinoids is spreading beyond its traditional territory of pain and nausea management.
MariMed Inc. (OTCQB:MRMD), a multistate cannabis company, has been improving the efficiency of its operations through vertical integration and the addition of new product lines, allowing it to more effectively deliver cannabis products to a wide range of customers. At the start of this year, the company established a subsidiary focused on CBD in response to rising sales and the changed legal status of hemp manufacturing in the US.
Lexaria’s work on DehyrdaTECH isn’t the only area where the interests of cannabis and tobacco are merging. Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ:CRON) (TSX:CRON.TO), a global cannabinoid company, has had its fortunes and its profile improved by an investment of C$2.4 billion from tobacco giant Altria. The company’s growth has also allowed it to establish a new global research and design center, Cronos Device Labs, in Israel. There, the company will work on devices specifically designed for the consumption of CBD.
As the technology around cannabis improves, so will the efficiency and effectiveness of cannabinoid products, lowering prices and improving outcomes for patients around the world.
For more information on Lexaria, please visit Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CNSX:LXX.CN) (OTCQX:LXRP).
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