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Areas of Focus

Cannabinoid-based therapies have a very wide range of potential medical applications, many of which OCT is exploring. Current research projects are in the following areas:

Pain

Pain (the sensory and emotional response associated with tissue damage) impairs quality of life. Therapeutic options for patients living with pain are limited and consist predominantly of opioids and anti-inflammatory drugs. Over the past years it has become clear that the continued use of opioids has resulted in a crisis in Europe and the USA with many patients now dependent on these drugs. This fact, together with the large number of patients who do not react to any current pain medication, makes it essential that more effective and safer pain medications are developed.

 

Cannabinoid receptors are expressed in the peripheral and central nervous system as well as on immune cells, all of which are in areas ideally suited for the modulation of pain processing. Pre-clinical data in a number of acute, neuropathic, chronic, and cancer pain models has shown a potent analgesic effect of cannabinoids and clinical trials have confirmed that cannabinoids have the potential to alleviate pain.

Oncology

Oncology is one of the core research areas of OCT. Several in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that cannabinoids can stimulate apoptosis, and autophagy, inhibit cell proliferation, metastasis and angiogenesis. OCT’s oncology program employs a three-pronged approach:

 
  1. By type: OCT screens phytocannabinoids and proprietary compounds across multiple cancer cell lines, looking to develop cancer-specific cannabinoid treatments. Our focus is on cancers with high unmet medical need such as lung and pancreatic cancer.
  2. By stage: Cancer development undergoes distinctive stages, such as angiogenesis and metastasis. Metastasis has a severe impact on patient 5-year survival rate. Some cannabinoids have been shown to reduce metastasis in animal models by reducing invasiveness of cancer cells. OCT is screening phytocannabinoids and proprietary compounds for their potential to inhibit metastasis using invasiveness of prostate and breast cancer cells as a model.
  3. Interplay with immunology: The human immune response plays an important role in the body’s ability to fight cancer and treatments have utilized this interaction in the past. OCT’s comprehensive immunology program provides insights into the immune modulatory properties of phytocannabiniods and proprietary compounds and if they have potential to be developed into immuno-oncology drugs.

Taken together OCT’s approach has a high-potential to lead to new therapies, which can help patients around the world.

Immunology

OCT is also exploring autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases. Inflammation is an evolutionary-conserved process that helps the body adjust and respond to a number of challenges, from environmental factors to cancer. However, when the immune system “revolts” against the body it can also cause debilitating diseases, including Crohn’s disease, lupus, and ulcerative colitis. An estimated 17.6m patients suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis world-wide and an estimated 37.5m from Psoriatic Arthritis.

Cannabinoids have shown to affect the immune system in various ways, including by affecting the proliferation, apoptosis and cytokine production of immune cells, and potentially acting as immune modulators. Data from preclinical studies in rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis suggest that cannabinoids have therapeutic potential in immunological disorders.

However, so far clinical data for the treatment of rheumatic diseases with cannabinoids is scarce, demonstrating the need for more studies that improve our understanding of the role cannabinoids can play as immune modulators.

Neurology

Cannabinoids, their receptors, and metabolizing enzymes form an intricate network within the central nervous system. Pre-clinical experiments have shown that cannabinoids can have a positive effect on neurodegenerative disorder. A number of studies in various Parkinson’s disease models have, for example, shown that modulating the endocannabinoid system may be useful to treat some motor symptoms. A small clinical trial in Huntington’s patients showed improvement of motor symptoms, mainly dystonia.

 

We are constantly looking to expand our research and if you are a principal investigator interested in submitting a proposal for a research collaboration, please contact us.