Could you tell the GCI Hub about you and what lead you to a career in cannabis?
I am a Professor and a Senior Research Scientist at the Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center, Israel, a leading author of more than 80 peer reviewed publications, 30 book chapters, invited reviews and holds 9 patents. I also serve as the Editor of books and a member of the Editorial boards in international scientific journals. I teach plant development and medical cannabis courses in Bar Ilan University, Israel.I have worked for 14 years in Volcani on plant hormones. After achieving the highest degree in Volcani, I reconsidered my research path. 5 years ago I decided to change to research on medicinal plants, cannabis in particular, with the clear aim of having medical products evolving from my research. As a result, we became one of the first labs to work on medical cannabis in the new area of cannabis research.
Israel is one of the global research leaders in cannabinoid science – why do you think that is?
I believe that Israel became a leader in medical cannabis science due to three main factors:
1. The world renowned, pioneering research conducted by Prof. Mechoulam and co-workers in the Hebrew University in Israel;
2. The recognition of the Israeli government in the importance of cannabis for medical use and the authorization to conduct research on, authorized by the Ministry of Health.
3. Being a “Startup Nation”: The vibrant atmosphere, reach resources, state of the art means and excitement for conducting research in medical cannabis.
Could you tell us a little about the work you’ve been doing at the Volcani Center?
Research in my lab is focused on deciphering the “entourage effect” between cannabis compounds while specifying active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) from cannabis and their medical activity at the physiological and molecular levels in human cells and tissues. The lab combines state of the art chemistry and cellular and molecular biology tools, making novel discoveries in this field. Research results are IP protected; they are published in international scientific journals and form a scientific basis for the development of the new generation of cannabis-based medical products.
How much inter-research facility cooperation and collaboration is there in Israel? Why do you think that is?
We have deep and vast collaboration, mainly across doctors working at hospitals in Israel. This collaboration is truly interdisciplinary, and allows conducting basic science research, pre-clinical experiments and clinical trials, for promoting development of medical cannabis-based treatments and products.
What illnesses and disorders do you believe are likely to soon have cures and/or effective cannabinoid treatment in the near future, for which traditional medicines have historically failed?
Our research unravelled the API formulation for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Products (suppositories) are now being developed based on this formulation. We have also identified the API formulation for the treatment of cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL), and approaching clinical trials. Other medical indications are now being examined in my lab for optimal, cannabis-based treatment.
You can hear more from Professor Hinanit Koltai at the GCI Europe Virtual Summit.
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