It sounds a bit ick, but Australian researchers say they have discovered a new delivery system that could improve the effectiveness of orally ingested medical cannabis products.
The cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) is highly lipophilic (tending to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats), sensitive to light and largely broken down in the duodenum, which is the first and shortest segment of the small intestine. This results in extremely low oral bioavailability in plasma (~6%) and tissues (~1%).
But new research led by Western Australia’s Curtin University saw the creation of tiny cannabinoid capsules that are absorbed by the body and brain faster compared to liquid form deliveries – in mice anyway. The novel microcapsules containing CBD were delivered in combination with capsules containing a naturally occurring bile acid, DCA.
The capsules created for the study were just 400 ± 50 μm in size – around 0.4 millimetres – and the encapsulation agent used was sodium alginate, which is extracted from seaweed.
“With this new capsulated form, we were able to improve the brain delivery of cannabidiol remarkably by 40 times in animal models and we were also able to protect the drug from oxidation and degradation by light, which helps extend product shelf-life,” said lead researcher, Associate Professor Ryu Takechi from the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) and Curtin University’s School of Population Health.
Furthermore, the use of a bile acid also increased retention of cannabidiol (CBD) in the brain.
While further research is required to determine if this type of drug delivery method could be successful in human studies, Associate Professor Takechi said the team’s findings were very promising.
The research was funded by medical cannabis company Zelira Therapeutics (ASX:ZLD) and the technology utilised is protected by a Zelira owned patent. Zelira says the findings support the development of CBD-based treatments for a range of neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injuries.
“This development further affirms Zelira’s commitment to innovation and leadership in cannabinoid medicine development,” said Zelira CEO Dr Oludare Odumosu.
A paper on the study has been published in the journal PLOS One and can be viewed in full here.