Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jan 2018
Source: News, The (New Glasgow, CN NS)
Copyright: 2018 Transcontinental Inc.
Author: Stuart Peddle
Page: A2


Editor's Note: This story is part of a series on the birth of a new Nova 
Scotia industry: Legal pot cultivation.

Nova Scotia pain researchers are looking to key into the body's own
systems for relief through new products based on cannabinoids like
those in cannabis.

A research team has founded a company called Panag Pharma Inc. to
develop non-addictive, effective topical pain relievers that will be
available over the counter.

Company president Dr. Mary Lynch is a professor at Dalhousie
University and director of research in the pain management unit of the
QEII Health Sciences Centre.

"I've had the privilege of working with and assisting people living
with chronic pain conditions for 25 years," Lynch said on Friday.

That wealth of experience has made it obvious to her that, "We do not
have enough tools to help people with the pain conditions that they
are suffering from now or in the future."

Lynch said there are growing numbers of people struggling with chronic
pain conditions as the population ages and medical science advances
allow people to live longer despite injuries or illnesses that once
would have killed them. Unfortunately, such illnesses or injuries
leave them in chronic pain, often related to nerve damage.

"Two of the obvious ones are HIV, AIDS and some of the treatments
required for that," Lynch said. "Both the virus and the treatments
cause nerve damage pain. And people with cancer have to have chemo and
the chemo causes nerve damage pain. So we've got two of those cohorts

"And, unfortunately, we haven't found world peace yet, so many of
those returning from the military frontÂ… there have been such great
advances in medicine on the fronts that we are able to keep our brave
soldiers alive but unfortunately they are often quite damaged when
they get home."

The need to treat these populations has driven her research program,
she said.

"So the second piece of that was, my patients - this was probably
close to 15-20 years ago - were telling us that they were using
marijuana to help them with pain. And back then, when we first looked
at it, about 15 per cent of our patients were telling us this. That
was both in our pain clinic and in the MS clinic locally. People were
using cannabinoids to help them with symptoms like pain and spasticity.

"So I started looking into the literature and found out that there was
already a very solid base of pre-clinical literature in animal science
telling us that there was a sophisticated endocannabinoid system built
into our bodies that we can take advantage of and exploit for the
treatment of pain and inflammation," Lynch said.

Cannabinoids are essentially chemicals that act upon receptors in the
body's endocannabinoid system, which is part of the body's pain and
inflammation defence system.

According to Panag Pharma's website, there are two main receptors in
this system. The CB1 receptors in the nervous system produce the high
associated with marijuana when activated. The CB2 receptors in the
immune system help with pain and inflammation but do not produce the

"And so then we embarked on a research program," Lynch

The research continued and the Panag group incorporated in

"So we have that collaboration working on developing specific
formulations," Lynch said.

Panag's topical cream to treat pain and inflammation, called simply
Topical AOTC for now, is currently in clinical trials with the Nova
Scotia Health Authority, led by Dr. Karim Muhkida.

"We have natural health products and we have patents. We've got an
ocular patent and we've got another patent submitted. And we've got
other natural health products submitted. So we've got a whole sort of
suite of formulations that we are developing for various pain and
inflammatory conditions."

Topical AOTC has a natural health product number and is already
approved for sale. Panag is in the process of working with potential
collaborators with more experience in marketing and

The active cannabinoids in Topical AOTC are not sourced from the
cannabis plant so it can be sold over the counter and the cream will
not produce a high.

"That's how we were able to get a natural health product number on
itÂ…. It comes from a number of things. The main active is in pepper,
cinnamon, cloves and other sort of more spicy kinds of things. And
then it's also got some capsaicin in it, which is from hot peppers."

It works by keying the system that's already in place in the

Even though the current products are based on other cannabinoid
sources besides marijuana, Lynch said the research group is definitely
interested in and already researching cannabis-based sources, too.

She expects Topical AOTC will be widely available sometime in 2018. In
her experience, it "absolutely" works. Among the new products Panag is
working on is a topical eye drop to relieve dry eyes and eye pain from
inflammation and other conditions.
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