Dr. Stephanie McGrath at CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (credit CBS)
The new clinical trial is funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation.
The researcher is encouraged by her findings, calling them “promising and exciting.” Nearly 6% of pet dogs have a common form of epilepsy. Cannabidiol could become another way to treat it.
McGrath hopes to zero in on the optimal dose to see of CBD could eventually be an alternative to anti-convulsive drugs for dogs.
The center’s new tech changes that, says Jamie Cuchiaro, a Ph.D. student who manages the day-to-day operations of the lab and researches the way organic molecules in hemp interact with metals. “There are 120 cannabinoids,” Cuchiaro says. Many other cannabinoid molecules in hemp, from cannabigerol (which fights inflammation and nausea) to cannabinol (a sort of sedative), might be goldmines for new medicines. Says Cuchiaro: “The world is our oyster.” She mentions that the center’s advanced machines can isolate CBD-V from the plant in large enough quantities so that eventually the lab can hold clinical trials on its effects. If CBD-V turns out to be a natural appetite suppressant, it’ll be a boon to medicine.
One under-explored aspect of hemp that the center is trying to figure out is the exact volume of cannabinoids a typical plant might have. We already know about the CBD contained within, but many molecules are so sparse in hemp that they can barely be separated out enough for researchers to work with. Yet these orphan molecules might be highly valuable.
The Panacea Life Sciences Cannabinoid Research Center opened last month to unlock the treasures of cannabis sativa—just not the familiar marijuana strain usually found clouding up dorm rooms and football games. While hemp is low in THC—the psychoactive chemical in cannabis that produces a high—it’s rich in the famous elixir cannabidiol, aka CBD, now beloved by grandmas with aching joints and children who experience seizures. Researchers believe there’s so much more to discover. “We want to find the answers to the mysteries,” says Melissa Reynolds, the College of Natural Sciences’s associate dean of research and head of the lab. “We want to be the mystery solvers.”
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The recently opened lab at Colorado State University in Fort Collins will take cannabinoids out of the dorm room and place them under a microscope.
Panacea sells hemp-derived oils and tinctures for humans and pets. Like many CBD companies, Panacea Life Sciences is growing like a weed. It currently owns a hemp farm on the Western Slope, employs 35 people, and opened kiosks this summer at Denver International Airport, as well as Park Meadows and Cherry Creek malls, to sell cannabinoids—though not THC. In 2020, the company made about $10 million in sales. Potential growth lies ahead. As CSU publishes its findings, Panacea will share the intellectual property rights as a way to possibly bring new cannabinoid products to market.
Now it’s CSU’s turn to catch up. The new center was funded by a $1.5 million gift from CSU alumna Leslie Buttorf, founder and CEO of Panacea Plant Sciences in Golden. Housed in one area of the chemistry building, the lab is stuffed full of gadgets like mass spectrometers and chromatographs to help CSU students study the cannabinoids in hemp.
Students and faculty at the lab have already begun to spearhead a few projects and collaborate on others—about 20 studies across various disciplines that include studying cannabinoids for alzheimers, joint pain, and stomach ailments, as well as a first-of-its-kind veterinarian study on cannabinoid effects in dogs and horses.
Caliper Powder, which is used in Caliper’s flagship consumer offerings, Caliper CBD and Caliper Swiftsticks, delivered CBD into the bloodstream 142 times faster than isolate, and 22 times faster than tincture, in the 30 minutes following ingestion, based on a comparison of observed circulating blood levels of CBD.
"More than 20 million Americans use CBD daily, and trends show that number continuing to rise," says Dr. Christopher Bell from Colorado State University . "But there is so little we understand about CBD and how everything from product format to individual physiology can affect circulating blood concentrations over time. The industry simply lacks basic scientific research and substantiation. We partnered with Caliper because they share our drive to better understand CBD and its effects on the human body, which was why testing with humans — and publishing the results in a peer-reviewed journal — was essential."
Caliper has expended considerable time and energy battling charlatanism in the CBD marketplace, including lobbying the FDA and Congress to demonstrate their concern for consumers by regulating the ongoing, widespread production and sale of consumer products infused with CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids. Caliper has taken the lead in pushing FDA to hold cannabinoid manufacturers to the same baseline standards for labeling accuracy, good manufacturing practices, and claims substantiation that non-CBD food & supplement manufacturers have operated under for decades.
Pharmacokinetics (PK) is the science of how bioactives diffuse through the body, and it reveals the difference between what we consume and what we absorb (vs. what we excrete), as well the rate and efficiency of absorption. PK studies are critical to understanding the efficacy of any bioactive compound, including CBD, since a bioactive’s effect is a function of its presence. In other words, you can’t feel what you don’t absorb. PK studies provide the scientific foundation for claims such as "fast acting," "long lasting," and "superior bioavailability."
"Caliper’s mission is to make consistent, convenient, and useful CBD products that feature rapid uptake and superior bioavailability — and we back it all up with rigorous clinical research. This study validates that mission," said Nicole Maione, general manager of Caliper Consumer. "The CBD industry has unfortunately invested far more money into the promotion of unfounded marketing claims than into the research required to substantiate those claims. Caliper cares about the process as much as the data, and we want to move this industry forward by developing clinically-substantiated CBD-infused products that meet their label claims."