By Meg Flippin, Benzinga
Cannabinoids are having a moment in treating everything from Alzheimers to ocular diseases and InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: INM) seems to be at the center of it all. The leader in cannabinoids and cannabinoid analogs pharmaceutical research, development, manufacturing and commercialization hit key milestones in advancing its cannabinoids-based treatments for Alzheimers disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and epidermolysis bullosa in 2023 with more inroads to come in 2024.
Take Alzehimers for starters. The disease is a big and growing problem afflicting about 6.7 million people 65 and older in the U.S. By 2060 its projected that 14 million people in the U.S. will suffer from the degenerative neurological disease. Treatments exist to address the symptoms related to memory and cognitive function and in some instances slow the rate of cognitive decline, but none have been able to reverse disease effects.
Making An Impact
InMed hopes to change that with INM-901, a rare cannabinoid analog the company says has the potential to target several biological pathways associated with Alzheimers. Previous industry research has shown cannabinoids hold promise in not only slowing the progress of Alzheimers but potentially reversing its effects thanks to their neuroprotective and regenerative properties. InMeds data from preclinical in vivo studies released last year showed INM-901 improved cognitive function and memory, locomotor activity, anxiety-based behavior, sound awareness and neuronal function. INM-901 also displayed neuroprotective effects by reducing cell death in an amyloid-beta-induced cytotoxicity study.
To further evaluate INM-901 in 2024, InMed has initiated longer-term, six-month preclinical studies in behavior models. At the same time, the company is gearing up to launch more advanced preclinical studies, encompassing drug distribution, metabolism, active pharmaceutical ingredients and drug product formulation/manufacturing.
Cannabinoids Can Protect Eyes
Another big disease InMed is going after is age-related macular degeneration or AMD, which is a common cause of vision loss and potential blindness in people over 50. Based on 2019 estimates, AMD afflicts 19.8 million people or 12.6% of Americans 40 and up. Globally it affects 35% of people 74 and older. As it stands, there is no cure for AMD although treatment can prevent or slow the progression of the disease. Left unchecked patients may lose central field vision in the affected eye within 24 months of disease onset.
INM-089, InMeds ocular program for AMD launched in November is showing promise in changing that. Preclinical studies showed the potential for the drug to preserve retinal function, proactively protect the retinal cells that are responsible for vision and enhance the thickness of the outer nuclear layer of the retina where photoreceptors are situated, InMed said.
Coming off those positive results, InMed is engaged in advanced preclinical studies and drug product formulation work, and it plans to launch Investigational New Drug studies in mid-2024. The goal is to file an Investigational New Drug application with regulatory authorities in the first half of 2025.
As we embark on 2024, we are placing increased emphasis on proprietary small molecule drug development candidates in our pharmaceutical pipeline with two exciting new programs addressing critical unmet medical needs, said InMed CEO Eric A. Adams. Our focus on developing proprietary cannabinoid analogs over the past two years has started to pay dividends, evident in their utilization in these two new preclinical programs.
Additionally, last year, the company successfully completed a phase 2 clinical trial in the treatment of epidermolysis bullosa or EB, a rare genetic skin disease marked by fragile skin that can lead to extensive blistering and wounding. Data from a phase 2 clinical trial of INM-755 showed a positive indication of enhanced anti-itch activity for INM-755 cannabinol cream versus the control cream alone, warranting further development. InMed thinks INM-755 holds promise for further advancement in the treatment of chronic itch and other related ailments and is currently seeking partnerships for continued development.
Supplier To All
In addition to developing its own treatments, InMed is a key supplier of rare cannabinoids as ingredients to the health and wellness market. The companys BayMedica unit focuses on being a low-cost/high-quality manufacturer of certain non-psychoactive rare cannabinoids and an ingredients supplier to brands within the health and wellness industry. In 2023, the company said the unit experienced significant year-over-year revenue growth, and it is making moves to capitalize on revenue-generating opportunities in 2024. To that end, BayMedica is embracing a distributor model to expand coverage across the U.S. InMed is betting consumer brands will use more rare cannabinoid ingredients in 2024 and InMed will be ready to provide them.
BayMedica continues to drive robust year-over-year revenue growth. The foreseeable future looks promising for the health and wellness segment as demand for minor cannabinoid ingredients continues to gain momentum, said Adams.
Cannabinoids hold promise to treat and potentially cure several diseases. InMed seems to be at the forefront of these groundbreaking advances. If 2023 is any indication, investors may want to watch for more milestones out of InMed this year and beyond.
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