Translational medicine is the process of taking scientific information derived from the laboratory and “translating” it into useful therapies. The normal method of drug development is as follows: pre-clinical basic science research identifies molecules that show promise in animal models of disease. These molecules then undergo extensive safety testing to determine toxicities and side effects. They then undergo clinical trials in patients to prove their safety and efficacy. The government may or may not then approve the drug based on the results of these clinical trials. This has not been the case for medical marijuana. Politicians, lobbyists for the marijuana industry and the general public have determined that marijuana should be used to treat disease in certain States. Marijuana is being used in a growing number of States and countries without important clinical knowledge of how to dose, optimum routes of administration, side effects, drug interactions, toxicities, effects on the fetus during pregnancy, measurement of breast milk concentration and other important considerations. This makes clinical decision making for prescribers difficult. Further complicating the situation, different strains of the plant material contain varying amounts of the cannabinoids (there are over 500 different chemicals in the plant material, and over 100 different cannabinoids, molecules that produce effects in the body) and the chemical composition of these strains is largely unknown. This dilemma has recently been highlighted in an article by Yasmin Hurd in Trends in Neurosciences (Cannabidiol: Swinging the Marijuana Pendulum from Weed to Medication to Treat the Opiod Epidemic, TINS, March 2017, Vol. 40(3).) Now that patients are using marijuana for treatment of various symptoms, what is needed is more precise clinical data as outlined above.
The scientists at Sativa Science are bridging this information gap, and collecting such data. This information will inform basic scientists and providers on which cannabinoids or combination of cannabinoids are useful for which symptoms and diseases, and will allow more directed scientific research into the mechanisms of efficacy and toxicity. Thus, Sativa Science is pioneering a “reverse translational medicine” approach. It is critical that patients join our database, which will ultimately aid greatly in the advancement of medical marijuana as a disease therapy.