Cannabinoid Derivatives Show Therapeutic Potential in Mouse Model, But EHP-102 Still Superior

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Emerald Health Pharmaceuticals announced that two of its cannabinoid-derived candidates — CBGA-Q and CBGA-Q-Na Salt — showed anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease.

However, these benefits were not superior to those obtained from treatment with the company’s already patented EHP-102 compound.

The findings, “Comparison of the neuroprotective activity of cannabigerol derivatives in Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease models,” were presented in a scientific poster during the 29th Annual Symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS), held recently in Bethesda, Md.

Cannabinoids and other players of the endogenous cannabinoid system — a widespread neuromodulatory network involved in central nervous system development and in responses to in-body and environmental stimuli — are known to exert neuroprotective effects. They have been investigated in a variety of conditions, including brain trauma, spinal injury, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.

EHP-102, a compound derived from the non-psychotrophic cannabinoid called cannabigerol (CBG), has previously been shown to reduce inflammation and neuronal loss in mouse models of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

It was modified to carry a more potent activity against the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, PPARy, a key molecular target for the treatment of Huntington’s, as well as target other pathways involved in neuronal survival.

CBGA-quinone, called CBGA-Q, and its water-soluble sodium salt, known as CBGA-Q-Na Salt, are two new molecules derived from cannabigerol acid being developed as possible treatments for Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

To test these new compounds, researchers compared their activity with that of EHP-102.

In a mouse model of Huntington’s disease, all three compounds reduced clinical symptoms and neuronal loss. They all also inhibited the production of proinflammatory cytokines — a type of immune signalling molecules that promote inflammatory processes. However, when compared with the other two cannabigerol-acid derivatives, EHP-102 showed significantly better effects on multiple clinical parameters.

In a previous study, EHP-102 had been found to prevent neuronal loss in Huntington’s-like disease mouse models, improving motor deficits and antioxidant defenses in the brain.

EHP-102 has received orphan drug status from the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a designation given to therapies being developed to treat rare diseases. This allows Emerald Health to receive tax credits for clinical trials, federal grants, and exclusive marketing for the therapy.

“Patients with Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease suffer from devastating physical and psychological symptoms,” Jim DeMesa, MD, CEO of Emerald Health Pharmaceuticals, said in a press release. “There is currently no cure for these diseases and so the results of the studies conducted by our scientific team and collaborators, which demonstrate the possible disease-modifying potential of EHP-102 and some of our other CBG-derivatives, are very encouraging as potential therapeutic treatments for these patients in the future.”

Given EHP-102’s “therapeutic superiority,” its developer plans to soon start the preclinical studies required to advance the compound toward clinical testing in both Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.