Denver is expanding Alzheimer’s research through the efforts of local company MedPharm.
The company plans to move forward with research efforts through a special Schedule I Researcher Licenses given specifically to the company by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“We’re interested in how cannabinoids affect the nervous system, the brain, and in particular, we’re very interested in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Tyrell Towle, director of chemistry and extraction at MedPharm.
Through their work and research, Towle hopes that MedPharm researchers will discover which cannabinoids can be helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s or treating symptoms. This is the first time a research license for this type of work has been granted outside of state and city research licenses to study cannabis.
“When you’re talking about wanting to do an actual clinical trial, you need a diversity of people that participate and one state just does not have the diversity of people that are required,” Towle said.
Denver Company Moves Forward with Research License
Thanks to the new DEA research license, MedPharm will now be able to supply investigational medications across state lines for the purpose of clinical trials. They will also be able to partner on their research with other labs and possibly even apply for government grants.
“The doors are wide open at this point,” said Dr. Duncan Mackie, director of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics.
In fact, this change shows that researchers can dive deeper than ever, looking into various types of cannabis compounds and how they affect, or don’t affect, different brain cells.
“Pretty much anything that comes from the plant, we can now actually look at it using the same mechanisms we would in drug discovery at a large pharmaceutical company, which has never been allowed,” Mackie said.
It took MedPharm years to get the license, but the hard work isn’t quite done yet for the ambitious Denver cannabis company. They now have to prove that they are putting it to good and fitting use.
“[It means] better research, and then that research will lead to better treatments with fewer side effects,” said Towle.
However, despite all the freedom for research the company has now, there are also some considerations and drawbacks. The license only allows MedPharm to conduct research on cannabis that was shifted through certain channels that have been approved by the government and DEA. To save time and money, they hope to eventually get a bulk manufacturing license so the researchers could test in-house products.
Denver’s MedPharm Drives Research Further
This isn’t the first time MedPharm made the news for groundbreaking research. Back in 2020, the company was granted the first Colorado cannabis research license to study dementia. It was also approved to conduct medical research by the city of Denver the same year.
“The possibilities are endless with the first of hopefully many medical marijuana research and development licenses issued in Denver,” Ashley Kilroy, Denver’s Excise and Licenses department’s executive director, said in a statement back in 2020 when the state license was granted. “Our hope is that this new license type will lead to effective treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s and other debilitating diseases so the full promise of legalized marijuana can be fulfilled.”
Through these grants, they carried out studies that lead to more understanding of cannabis and dementia.
“We will have 30 patients in the first study with multiple forms of dementia,” CEO Albert Gutierrez explained. “The participants will be broken into three groups—placebo, cannabinoid only and premier product. […] We will conduct brain scans and take blood samples throughout the study to monitor the improvement in cognition, memory, demeanor, decision-making ability and caregiver interaction.”
Now, just like then, the company is being given the chance to expand their research, and their reach, even further.
Addison Herron-Wheeler is co-publisher and owner of OUT FRONT Magazine, and web editor of New Noise Magazine. She covers cannabis and heavy metal, and is author of Wicked Woman: Women in Metal from the 1960s to Now and Respirator, a collection of short stories.