Israeli researchers probe how cannabis can treat endometriosis
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Israeli researchers probe how cannabis can treat endometriosis

Disease that affects 10% of women of childbearing age can cause severe pain and bleeding

A cannabis plant at the Knesset in 2009 for a meeting on medical marijuana in the parliament's Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
A cannabis plant at the Knesset in 2009 for a meeting on medical marijuana in the parliament's Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Israeli researchers have started pre-clinical studies to examine the impact of medical cannabis in the treatment of endometriosis, a medical problem that affects one in 10 women of childbearing age.

The research is led by Gynica, which is licensed by the Health Ministry to develop cannabis-based products for women, in cooperation with Lumir Lab, a cannabis research facility in the Biotechnology Park, Hadassah Ein Karem, Jerusalem.

Endometriosis affects some 176 million women worldwide. In affected women, uterine lining grows outside the uterus, in the fallopian tubes, ovaries and other areas of the abdominal cavity and in the pelvis. These women suffer from severe pain before and during menstruation, bleeding and pain during and after intercourse, dyspepsia and frequent or painful urination.

Anecdotal evidence has shown that women who smoke cannabis find relief from their pain, said Dr. Sari Sagiv, VP of research and development at Gynica. The researchers set out to find out what compounds or combination of compounds of cannabis can potentially address the problem.

“Endometriosis is a complicated disease,” she said, as it has a number of factors working together that need to be addressed.

“I believe cannabis has enough compounds that can affect a number of factors” of the disease, she said, including reducing pain, inflammation and the risk of recurrence.

The researchers have already tested a variety of cannabis compounds of endometriosis cells in vitro to see how they react to the compounds.

“We are trying single or a combination of compounds on these cells” to find out if there is an impact and what it is, she explained. “We have already seen that there are different parts of the compounds that have a lot of impact.”

The researchers are now whittling the compounds down to a “lead candidate,” with which they will start clinical trials.

“We already have an indication of what can be a lead candidate to deal with a number of factors that can cure endometriosis,” Sagiv said — not just address the pain. But she declined to reveal additional details until a patent has been filed.
“We want to start clinical trials in the third quarter of the year,” she said.

In parallel with the research process being conducted at Lumir Lab, Gynica is collaborating with Canadian company Strainprint, a firm that specializes in data collection and analysis of the effects of cannabis on various diseases. The companies are working on setting up the world’s largest data collection platform to analyze the effects of cannabis on women.

Lumir Lab is run by Prof. Lumir Hanush, a leading cannabis researcher, who is responsible for some of the most important discoveries made in the field of cannabis active substances. Gynica is led by Prof. Moshe Hod, a gynecologist and president of the European Association of Obstetricians. The firm does R&D specializing in cannabinoids based in the field of gynecology.

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