Targeting cancer with cannabis

Eyal Ballan, Eyal Barad, Noam Permont  photo: Eyal Izhar

Cannabics seeks to match cannabis compounds to treatment of specific tumors.

"My disappointment with my second degree in cancer research is one of the reasons that I'm here," says Eyal Ballan, VP technology and one of the founders of Cannabics Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OTC: CNBX). "I became disappointed in chemotherapy, in the rigid science that rules out interesting ideas."

The disappointment led Ballan to brain research, and to involvement in medical research from a more holistic point of view. For a while he also worked in biofeedback.

"Five years ago, Itamar Borochov, who previously mainly dealt in real estate and in consultation for young companies, decided to found a cannabis company," Ballan relates. "His approach exactly matched my desire to come nearer to natural medicine and to drugs that work on both body and soul. When you give a pain killer to a cancer patient, have you eased a pain in the body or in the soul? Today it is becoming more and more clear that the two go together. If we've reduced nausea and weight has gone up and the patient wants to live, it could be that we will extend life more than by chemotherapy or an innovative biological drug. Today, grandfathers and grandmothers come to us not just because they are ill, but even when they are healthy and want to feel better. My grandmother is 92, and since she started taking cannabis she has stopped talking about death."

Every growth has its cannabis

Cannabics, which is traded on Wall Street, has two main product lines. One is a pill that contains a cannabis extract with a controlled mix of THC and CBD - an extract that is not a rarity on the market, but the company has taken things a step further and is examining the effect of this specific pill on appetite and weight gain in cancer patients in a clinical trial at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. The company believes that it will be able to register a patent on the proportions of the materials and the process of growing the plant and producing the pill.

The other area of activity is killing cancer cells directly using cannabis oil. At an investment of some $1 million, the company set up a laboratory where it examines the effect of cannabis compounds on tumors. Previous research has already shown that cannabis, and specifically THC (the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis), kills cancer cells in the laboratory, although it has yet to be demonstrated that cannabis can cure cancer. Cannabics seeks to provide a matching service of a specific cannabis compound for each tumor. Its assumption, that every tumor will require a different mix of substances and that in this way the effectiveness of treatment can be improved, is still unproven.

"These analyses have generated piles of data," says Cannabics VP business development Noam Permont. "We are examining a range of artificial intelligence tools to try to develop the ability to predict which cannabis will work on which cell, and we will perhaps avoid cases in which cannabis makes the problem worse."

Is it possible to register a patent on cannabis?

Ballan: "I haven't heard of litigation in that area. I presume there will be in the future. Many of the patents in this field are in China. Companies that trade in IP bought the patents or registered them themselves. Some will stand up to legal examination and some won't. The big drug companies also hold a large proportion of the intellectual property, perhaps to block competition or to start operating in this field if it matures."

Permont: "In any event, we won't sell cannabis, but rather our technology."

The company currently has a market cap of some $120 million on the OTC market in the US, after rising and falling sharply on the waves of the cannabis trend in the US. It is not certain that it wishes to be upgraded to Nasdaq. Most cannabis players are traded on the OTC market. "There's no shortage of companies with a wonderful story that listed on Nasdaq and evaporated," says Permont.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on June 11, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

Eyal Ballan, Eyal Barad, Noam Permont  photo: Eyal Izhar
Eyal Ballan, Eyal Barad, Noam Permont photo: Eyal Izhar
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