A New Startup is Hoping to Use Marijuana to Treat Inflammatory Diseases

According to a story from Business Insider, two researchers from Stanford University, Lawrence Steinman and Jonathan Rothbard, have decided to start a new company called Katexco Pharmaceuticals. This startup will focus on the development of new treatments for inflammatory diseases derived from the cannabis plant. 

Treating Inflammatory Disease

These men are hoping that medications derived from cannabis could be potentially effective for a variety of diseases linked with inflammation, such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis. The researchers have decades of experience at Stanford and already have some experience getting new companies off the ground. The cannabis-based compound that these researchers are interested in is called cannabidiol, or CBD. This substance had already been found to have some useful medicinal characteristics.

The Power of CBD

CBD is not the active ingredient in cannabis that causes users to feel psychoactive effects, or a “high,” when the plant flowers are smoked, so a drug that utilizes CBD has very little risk of adverse mental effects. Some previous research also suggests that CBD could be an effective treatment for Crohn’s disease. However, difficulties in getting marijuana research programs off the ground means that more convincing, large scale trials have not happened yet. Katexco aims to facilitate these larger trials in the future. Other potential medical uses for CBD include alleviating pain and reducing anxiety. CBD derived drugs have also gained approval for the treatment of rare forms of epilepsy.

In an effort to skirt federal drug laws surrounding cannabis, the primary HQ for the company will be located in Canada, with a satellite office located in Silicon Valley.

Improving Treatment Approaches, Expanding Treatment Options

There are already a number of treatments for many of the diseases that Katexco appears to want to target, so why are they interested in finding new treatments for them? Well, many of the most widely used anti-inflammatory drugs come with serious side effects, such as immune system suppression. A CBD based drug could potentially avoid these problems, which are serious burden on quality of life for patients.

The primary focus of their development involves to A7 receptor. The researchers hope that targeting the A7 receptor with both CBD and nicotine in the intestine, say for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, the inflammatory response could be shut down. Only more research and clinical trials will reveal the potential of this approach.


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