Cannabotech (CNTC.TA), which is involved in the development of a botanical drug based on an extract of the Cyathus striatus fungus and a cannabinoid extract from the cannabis plant, reports that in experiments conducted on a cell model, the fungus extract eliminated 100% of pancreatic cancer cells relatively selectively and without damaging normal cells.
The fungus has been the subject of research to test its anti-cancer efficacy in Prof. Fuad Fares’ laboratory at the University of Haifa for about eight years. It was selected as the preferred candidate for the development of a drug for pancreatic and colon cancer after showing better anti-cancer results than a variety of other fungi tested. A few months ago, Cannabotech received global and exclusive rights of use for patents created in Prof. Fares’ research and began leading an accelerated process of developing a botanical drug as defined by the FDA.
The first milestone in the botanical drug development process was defined as the adaptation of fungal growth and extraction methods to the FDA protocol for botanical drug development, which the company expects to be significantly cheaper and shorter than the development process of a standard ethical drug. In addition, the anti-cancer activity of the new fungal extract and the cannabinoid composition developed by Cannabotech on pancreatic cancer were examined.
The company is pleased to announce that in a cell model trial, the adapted extract showed 5 times higher anti-cancer efficacy than the original extract while causing 100% mortality of pancreatic cancer cells. In the active concentration on pancreatic cancer cells, no damage to the healthy cells was observed. The cannabinoid extract resulted in an 80% mortality of pancreatic cancer cells.
Cannabotech expects to complete the feasibility study phase within 12 months, by mid-2023, at the end of which it will work to create a development collaboration with a large pharma company vis-à-vis the FDA. As the next milestone in the development process, the company plans to test both the active mechanism of killing cancer cells by extracts and the combined anti-cancer efficacy of the fungus and cannabinoids together, in cells and animals.
The company is accompanied in the development process by Dr. Yitzhak Angel, a pharmacologist specialized in drug development, with over 35 years of experience in drug development and in his work as the director of pharmacology at the pharmaceutical company SANOFI, and Dr. Alex Weisman, an expert in organic chemistry and API manufacturing, who headed the research and development department of the API division at PERRIGO.
Pancreatic cancer is reputed to be one of the most aggressive cancers; it has a very low survival rate and is one of the most significant causes of mortality in the Western world. The FDA also tends to give companies significant relief in drug development processes for this indication, such as defining the drug as an “orphan drug.”
Prof. Fuad Fares, a senior cancer researcher: “I am happy that the collaboration with Cannabotech is bearing fruit and achieving very impressive results to strengthen the research we conducted at the University of Haifa in recent years. The fact that such impressive results have been obtained in cells that mimic a subtype of pancreatic cancer that is known to be highly aggressive, reinforces the assessment that anti-cancer activity will be effective in other subtypes of pancreatic cancer as well.”
Dr. Itzhak Angel, pharmacological consultant for Cannabotech: “Developing a botanical drug is a challenging process and the results we have achieved are a real indication that the extracts are effective and safe to use as an anti-cancer treatment for pancreatic cancer. We still have a way to go to substantiate that expectation, but we have good hopes to deliver real news to patients and develop a concrete solution to one of the most aggressive cancers.”
Elhanan Shaked, CEO at Cannabotech: “We have completed a significant milestone on the way to developing the botanical drug for pancreatic cancer. This is another step that brings us closer to the great vision we set for ourselves and investors about three years ago. I am convinced that we will continue to meet the deadlines and that within 12 months, we will complete the feasibility stage and work for development cooperation with a large pharmaceutical company vis-à-vis the FDA.”