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Cannabis plant extracts could potentially form the basic ingredients for a market-leading diabetes drug, the scientist who developed a former world-beating treatment for the condition believes.

Cannabis plant extracts could potentially form the basic ingredients for a market-leading diabetes drug, the scientist who developed a former world-beating treatment for the condition believes. Professor Mike Cawthorne led the team that developed GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Avandia, which became the British company's second-biggest selling drug until sales plunged in 2007 after a study linked it to a higher risk of heart attacks. "I sincerely believe it is possible to improve on it (Avandia), and plant-based medicines could be one way to do that," he said. Cawthorne is collaborating with U.K.-based GW Pharma, a specialist developer of cannabis-based medicines, at a new laboratory dedicated to looking for plant-based treatments for diabetes. The GW Metabolic Research Laboratory will look the different cannabinoid molecules that have been found within the cannabis plant, as well as range of other plants extracts. There are 60-70 cannabinoid extracts, though only one of those--THC--has the psychoactive properties traditionally associated with the plant. The researchers will conduct preclinical studies to evaluate them all as possible treatments for diabetes, with a view to getting licensing deals if they make sufficient progress.

Cawthorne said that the cannabinoid CBD, used along with THC in GW Pharma's Sativex drug, has been seen to raise levels of "good" cholesterol in animals. While "bad" cholesterol can build up in the blood vessels and cause strokes or heart attacks, "good" cholesterol is thought to protect against heart attacks.
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Title Annotation:RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY; GlaxoSmithKline PLC; GW Pharmaceuticals
Publication:MondayMorning
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Jun 22, 2009
Words:235
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