Press Release: GW expands cannabinoid research in the field of diabetes and metabolic disease

16 June 2009

“GW Metabolic Research Laboratory” established in conjunction with Professor Cawthorne and the Clore Laboratory, University of Buckingham

Porton Down, UK, 16 June 2009: GW Pharmaceuticals plc (GWP:AIM) today announces that it has entered into an exclusive strategic alliance with Professor Mike Cawthorne and the Clore Laboratory, University of Buckingham, focusing on the research of cannabinoids, and other phytomedicines, in the field of type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease. A dedicated section of the Clore Laboratory has been named the ‘GW Metabolic Research Laboratory’.

Professor Cawthorne is Director of Metabolic Research at the Clore Laboratory, University of Buckingham and a recognized world leading authority in the research of new treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes. At SmithKline Beecham he was Group Director for diabetes and obesity research and led the research team that discovered the multi-billion dollar insulin sensitizer drug, rosiglitazone (Avandia®).

The principal objectives of this strategic alliance are as follows:

  • to provide GW with a dedicated facility for undertaking pre-clinical pharmacologic studies of cannabinoids in the area of metabolic disease
  • to provide GW with exclusive access to plant-based therapies under evaluation at the Clore Laboratory
  • to support the pharmaceutical development of new GW cannabinoid medicines to address defined aspects of the metabolic syndrome
  • to provide expert advice to GW, through Professor Cawthorne, in the metabolic disease area

Dr Geoffrey Guy, GW’s Chairman, said, “We are delighted to be expanding our relationship with such prominent experts in the field of metabolic research. GW has already carried out pre-clinical studies on its cannabinoids in several models of diabetes with promising results. We believe strongly that our in-house research programme in the field of diabetes and metabolic syndrome offers significant commercial potential. This collaboration will allow us to progress this research effort to develop a number of potential new cannabinoid product candidates in this therapeutic area.”

Professor Cawthorne, Director of Metabolic Research at the Clore Laboratory, University of Buckingham, said, “I am particularly encouraged by the results of pre-clinical studies performed to date on GW cannabinoids and see exciting potential for the development of new treatments in the field of type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders. I look forward to working closely with GW on the development of new metabolic medicines.”

GW’s Cannabinoid Research in Diabetes and Metabolic Disease

GW has carried out pre-clinical research on its cannabinoids in several models of type 2 diabetes. Results of this research show desirable effects on plasma insulin, leptin and adiponectin levels, hormones of particular relevance to the development and treatment of diabetes. In addition, these results have shown a reduction in total cholesterol with an increase in the proportion of HDL (good) cholesterol.

GW’s two leading cannabinoid candidates in this field are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has shown potential beneficial effects in hypercholesterolaemia and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, while THCV has shown desirable effects notably in raising energy expenditure. Exploration of the effects of these two cannabinoids in combination confirms that a number of the components of the metabolic syndrome can potentially be addressed with a single medicine.

Both THCV and CBD have now successfully been the subject of Phase I clinical trials. GW is preparing to advance a combined THCV:CBD drug candidate into a Phase IIa multiple dose study in the treatment of dyslipidaemia and fatty liver in Type 2 diabetic patients.


GW Pharmaceuticals plc (Today, 16 June) + 44 20 7831 3113
Dr Geoffrey Guy, Chairman (Thereafter) + 44 1980 557000
Justin Gover, Managing Director

Financial Dynamics + 44 20 7831 3113
Ben Atwell / John Dineen

Investec Bank plc + 44 20 7597 4000
Patrick Robb

Notes to Editors

Professor Mike Cawthorne BSc (Hons), PhD, CBiol, FIBiol
Professor Cawthorne is Director of Metabolic Research at the Clore Laboratory, University of Buckingham, where he leads a group of 15 researchers seeking new molecular targets and evaluating pioneering therapies for obesity and type 2 diabetes. From 1968 to 1994, Professor Cawthorne was at Beecham and SmithKline Beecham latterly as Group Director for diabetes and obesity research. Apart from leading the research team that discovered the billion dollar insulin sensitiser drug rosiglitazone, he led the biological research that identified the β3-adrenoceptor as a potential molecular target for thermogenesis and type 2 diabetes. Professor Cawthorne has published more than 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals, is a past Chairman of the Association for the Study of Obesity, was founding secretary of the International Association for the Study of Obesity and received the 2001 award for drug discovery from the Society of Medicines research for the discovery and development of rosiglitazone.

About the Clore Laboratory

The Clore Laboratory was established at the University of Buckingham in 1986 and is an internationally recognised metabolic research group. Under its present Director, Professor Mike Cawthorne, its aim is to undertake preclinical studies from the gene level through to whole body physiology to define new molecular targets for the treatment of diabetes, obesity and metabolic disease and to design and evaluate pioneering therapeutics.

The University of Buckingham was founded in 1976 as an independent University and does not rely on Government funding. It has voluntarily submitted itself to audit by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and has come top of the National Student Survey in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

About GW

GW was founded in 1998 and listed on the AiM, a market of the London Stock Exchange, in June 2001. Operating under license from the UK Home Office, the company researches and develops cannabinoid pharmaceutical products for patients who suffer from a range of serious ailments, in particular multiple sclerosis and cancer pain. GW has assembled a large in-house scientific team with expertise in cannabinoid science as well as experience in the development of both plant-based prescription pharmaceutical products and medicines containing controlled substances. GW occupies a world leading position in cannabinoids and has developed an extensive international network of the most prominent scientists in the field.