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Drugs for treating diabetes could be developed using cannabis plant extracts, a leading scientist in the field has said.
Professor Mike Cawthorne is collaborating with a specialist developer of cannabis-based medicines, GW Pharma, in a bid to improve on his former world-beating treatment for the condition, Avandia.
Prof Cawthorne headed the team that developed GlaxoSmithKline’s second-biggest selling drug at the time, which only saw sales dip after later research linked it to a higher risk of heart attacks.
In an interview with Reuters, he said: “I sincerely believe it is possible to improve on it (Avandia), and plant-based medicines could be one way to do that.”
Scientists at the GW Metabolic Research Laboratory are exploring the different cannabinoid molecules that have been found within the cannabis plant.
The cannabinoid CBD, used alongside THC in GW Pharma’s Sativex drug, has been seen to raise levels of “good” cholesterol in animals, according to Prof Cawthorne.
“Good” cholesterol is thought to protect against heart attacks, even as “bad” cholesterol can build up in the blood vessels and cause strokes or heart attacks.
Copyright Press Association 2009