- Partnership between Algae Dynamics and Dr. Steven Laviolette focuses on medical benefits of cannabis and hemp oils for various mental health disorders
- Canada is moving to legalize cannabis throughout the country in 2018, which could radically change research playing field
- Canadian cannabis oil extraction market projected to reach $1.5 billion by 2020
Algae Dynamics Corp. (OTCQB: ADYNF), a Canadian company focused on the development of proprietary research and products derived from cannabis and hemp oils, has begun a collaborative relationship with one neuroscientist who is looking deep within the brain for answers to some of the world’s most pressing mental health problems.
This research agreement with Dr. Laviolette, a neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, is no small thing. The level of human misery and the resulting global economic burden caused by neurological and mental health disorders is hard to fathom. The World Health Organization reports that failure to adequately address and provide effective treatment for depression and other anxiety disorders could cost the world $1 trillion each year, according to research published in The Lancet (http://cnw.fm/grO69).
“I started working with Algae Dynamics in the spring of this year and it’s going really well, we’re already making quite a bit of progress,” Dr. Laviolette said. “They’re very open-minded and they appreciate the science. They understand the best products come from the best quality science, so I’m very excited to be working with them.”
Algae Dynamics approached Dr. Laviolette, because he was already examining how cannabinoids can treat disorders such as addiction, schizophrenia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We’ve been looking at how we can more effectively utilize different chemicals that are found in marijuana to serve as more effective treatments for some of these devastating illnesses,” Dr. Laviolette says. “Algae Dynamics was taking a holistic approach to this research by not only looking at the specific cannabinoids in marijuana, but they also have a background in the extraction of various nutritional dietary products such as Omega-3 fatty acids. That was very exciting for me.”
Emerging research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids can have very strong interactions with the brain’s natural or biological endocannabinoid system and can also modulate the effects of cannabinoids on the brain. If there is a dietary deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids, the brain’s natural cannabinoid system is not going to work with optimal efficiency, Dr. Laviolette explained.
“By contrast, if you can supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids you see certain improvements in the brain’s cannabinoid system, so that immediately got us interested in how synergies between Omega-3 fatty acids and cannabinoids that are derived from marijuana might serve as potential, novel pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products for treating certain specific mental health disorders.”
The brain’s natural cannabinoid system is involved in a lot of different processes that relate to mental health, including mood regulation, one’s ability to learn and remember, and certain cognitive tasks.
“We know in certain mental health disorders like depression, addiction and schizophrenia, there’s a lot of disturbance in this cannabinoid system,” Dr. Laviolette continued. “So oftentimes people will sort of self-medicate with marijuana and perhaps expose themselves to some of the more negative aspects of it. One compound, in particular, called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), can have negative effects, especially in younger adults, especially adolescents.”
Dr. Laviolette and his team have been comparing and contrasting THC versus other cannabinoids found in marijuana and seek to answer the question of: “What are some of the molecular pathways that they activate and how can we modulate different phytocannabinoids in their formulations and combine them with Omega-3’s to make them less likely to produce some of the negative side effects possible with marijuana exposure?”
“We’re looking at both the positive and negative effects, with the goal of really reducing or eliminating the negative effects and really sort of amplifying the positive chemicals that are found in marijuana in terms of treating some of these illnesses,” Dr. Laviolette said.
One of the biggest concerns of the medical community, and one reason a lot of doctors are not very willing to prescribe their patients cannabinoids in terms of treating mental health symptoms like PTSD, depression or even schizophrenia, relates to the potential negative side effects, he added.
“What we’re really trying to do is tease apart the positive and negative aspects of marijuana. We’ve been able to show CBD can actually be a promising treatment for a variety of mental health disorders like PTSD and schizophrenia,” Dr. Laviolette said. “It’s quite amazing because, when you think about it, it’s the same plant but these two different, competing chemicals are producing different effects in terms of mental health.”
Another major issue associated with using cannabinoids as a medical treatment is that people “aren’t really too keen on the idea of just smoking cannabinoids,” he said. “So, one of the major research directions we’re taking with Algae Dynamics is coming up with more effective non-smoked formats of medical marijuana, which includes oil-based formulations.”
Algae Dynamics’s focus on supporting research directed at the medical benefits of cannabis and hemp oils is providing a critical lifeline to scientists like Dr. Laviolette.
“The other aspect is that it’s very difficult to do this research because of all the different government regulations that you need to go through to, first; get ahold of the actual compounds, and second; get the actual license to perform these sorts of studies,” he said.
Canada is heading toward legalization of cannabis throughout the country in 2018, which could bode well for the research community, investors and companies like Algae Dynamics.
“People are excited. I think there’s a general feeling that cannabinoids are absolutely going to be an emerging biotechnology in the coming decades,” said Dr. Laviolette. “Companies like Algae Dynamics are actually taking this research seriously and are getting in on the ground floor of the development of effective cannabinoid products.”
While solid, quality research takes time, Dr. Laviolette said his team is now moving toward the clinical realm with the goal of collaborating with clinicians sometime within the next few months. Discovering the ideal ratios of THC and CBD and then combining those with a nutritional supplement such as Omega-3 fatty acids is expected to lead to the best formulations for an early stage clinical trial.
“I think there’s tremendous potential for development of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals based on that,” Dr. Laviolette says. “I’ve been doing this research for well over two decades now and what you consistently realize is that the existing drugs available for treating some of these symptoms have some really bad side effects. So, it’s not only the limited effectiveness of a lot of these drugs used to treat depression and anxiety, but the serious side effects that make a lot of people stop taking them. It’s essentially a barrier of sorts to long term treatment.”
Dr. Laviolette’s research is providing early, promising evidence that there are very few side effects associated with cannabidiol, or CBD, which is a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana.
“I think there’s tremendous potential to develop pharmacological treatments that are derived from natural products that are relatively pure. I think they’ll be a much more promising alternative than the more traditional medications that are out there right now,” he added.
Cannabis is a complex plant with well over 100 different phytochemicals, a fact that Dr. Laviolette describes as exciting but also one that means researchers are just barely beginning to “scratch the surface.”
For more information about Dr. Laviolette and his research with Algae Dynamics, visit the company’s website at www.AlgaeDynamics.com
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