It was in 1963 that professor Raphael Mechoulam became the first scientist to isolate and later synthesize THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in the marijuana plant.
These active ingredients led him and his team to discovering the endocannabinoid system in 1988.
The “father of cannabis research” today is leading amedical team for EPM that plans to register in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange towards Q4 2021.
Mechoulam sat down with the Jerusalem Post for an interview along with EPM’s CEO, Reshef Swisa and chairman, veteran British pharmaceutical businessman Julian Gangolli.
“When you look at a cannabis field, none of the plants actually contain THC or CBD or any cannabinoids. All cannabinoids will appear on a plant only after that plant is dead,” Swisa told the Post. “You learn that there is a big difference between the compound you find on a plant when it’s alive and the compound you’ll find when it’s dead.”
According to Swisa, cannabis acids are an exciting avenue for new research because, “while the entire industry is working on the compounds that decarboxylate from the plant after it starts drying up, we were more interested in looking into what happens on the plant itself.”
“It must be better than what they have now,” he said of why pharmaceutical companies would show an interest.
He added, “that may be the main reason that a lot of pharmaceutical companies aren’t looking at cannabis. You can’t patent the formula for a natural molecule.”
Swisa explained that “the cannabis acids are very unstable, meaning they break apart into cannabinoids very easily. If you tried to take them from the plant or tried to consume them, the heat of your body would break them down and they would decarboxylate.”
According to the CEO, cannabis acids are also not easily reproducible. They depend on complicated forms of extraction which require very specific plant-growing conditions.
Swisa said Mechoulam’s team synthesized molecules in a lab which replicate the structures of the cannabis acids, but do not easily break up into cannabinoids. This lets them be reproduced on a large scale without the need to depend on living plants.
“We’ve so far developed 14 different molecules, eight of which are completely novel discoveries, meaning that we own a very exclusive patent on them, since they are a new discovery to the scientific world,” he said. “Each one of those molecules has the potential to be developed into several drugs, while many companies can do incredible things with even just one molecule.”
“We have research institutes working with us in Israel, Canada and the UK. We have facilities developing EPM products in the UK, Sweden and Denmark, and offices in the US and Australia. I can estimate that more than 200 people in different universities and CRO’s [contract research organizations] are working on our projects at any given time,” said the CEO.