Avicanna Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development, manufacturing and commercialization of plant-derived cannabinoid-based products has updated and amended its collaboration with Dr. Jibran Khokhar, Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph, and initiated prioritized pre-clinical studies on the RHO Phyto formulations that are commercialized in Canada and Colombia. Additionally, the Company provides an update on research projects with the University of Toronto and Thompson Rivers University as well as a change to its management team.
Initiation of Pre-clinical Studies on RHO Phyto in Collaboration with University of Guelph
Further to Avicanna’s previous announcement regarding Dr. Khokhar’s research team at the University of Guelph being awarded a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (“NSERC”) Alliance grant focused on the neurobiological underpinnings of cannabis toxicosis with the aim to evaluate Avicanna’s formulations in the treatment of cannabis-induced toxicosis, the project is now being expanded. The expansion of the project includes pharmacokinetic and behavioural testing of Avicanna’s RHO Phyto™ formulations as well as studying their efficacy in alleviating neuropathic pain and addiction. The data generated from the research will help guide Avicanna’s clinical development, including the pharmaceutical and real-world evidence studies related to the RHO Phyto formulations, and will provide additional information to health care practitioners who are recommending and prescribing the products in several markets.
COVID-19 Drug Candidate Project Update
The research collaboration with the University of Toronto on the development of a drug candidate to treat lung inflammation caused by COVID-19, with funding support from an NSERC Alliance grant and a MITACS Alliance grant, is complete. The peer-reviewed grants were focused on the development of a cannabinoid formulation to be used for further research on COVID-19. The physical and chemical characterization of the optimized cannabinoid formulation is complete, which included its stability and drug release properties in relevant conditions.
COVID-19 and Anti-inflammatory Related Research Collaboration with TRU with Non-dilutive Funding
In partnership with Avicanna, Dr. Kingsley Donkor and collaborators from Thompson Rivers University (“TRU”), will be evaluating naturally derived cannabinoids and candidate formulations for their efficacy to modulate the receiving receptor of COVID-19 (angiotensin-converting ACE2 gene expression). This project will focus on elucidating the mechanism of action of novel prophylactic nasal and oral cannabinoid products for humans that target ACE2 viral gateways. Candidate formulations, once identified, will be evaluated for anti-inflammatory effects in human-derived lung tissue models. The research with TRU is supported by an NSERC grant and a MITACS Internship.
Avicanna further announces the resignation of Dr. Amza Ali from his role of Chief Medical Officer so that he may focus more on his medical, academic, and other research pursuits and to dedicate more time to his family. Dr. Ali’s resignation will be effective January 28, 2021. Dr. Ali will continue to advise on the Company’s neurology-related projects including the recently announced epilepsy collaboration with UHN. Avicanna’s extensive medical and R&D team continues advancing the Company’s clinical projects and will maintain its scientific leadership position within the cannabinoid industry.
Aras Azadian, CEO of Avicanna, commented: “I want to thank Dr. Ali for his contributions during his tenure with Avicanna. He has been instrumental in establishing our medical guidelines and enhancing our clinical plans and we look forward to continuing to build on the medical and scientific platforms and best practices we have established. We also look forward to his continuous guidance on our neurological projects, including the very important epilepsy research we have recently embarked on.”
Avicanna is a diversified and vertically integrated Canadian biopharmaceutical company focused on the research, development, and commercialization of plant-derived cannabinoid-based products for the global consumer, medical, and pharmaceutical market segments.