- Los Angeles-based Vitality Biopharma on Wednesday announced it had secured a green light from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the State of California to begin scaling up research at its cannabinoid pharmaceutical development facility.
- Vitality is developing prodrug versions of THC and cannabidiol, in an effort to sidestep the psychoactive side effects which can limit the use of large doses of cannabinoids in treating pain and other maladies.
- Cannabis-derived drugs have attracted increasing attention from biopharma firms in recent years, particularly as regulations in some U.S. states have been eased.
Vitality, originally called Stevia First Corp. before it pivoted to focus on cannabinoid prodrugs, has also been granted a permit by the California Attorney General's Office to begin development which could lead to clinical trials in humans.
"We are excited to scale up our research and to aggressively pursue clinical testing of our compounds, and this approval greenlights that work," said Brandon Zipp, director of R&D, and scientific co-founder of Vitality Biopharma.
Other companies are also active in the space. Perhaps most noteworthy is GW Pharmaceuticals, which has gone three for three in Phase 3 studies testing its cannabidiol drug Epidiolex as a treatment for a rare forms of epilepsy. The British company expects to submit Epidiolex for approval in the U.S. sometime in the first half of 2017.
Vitality, on the other hand, hopes to target inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease, according to its website.