A new cannabis-based medicine has been identified as a potential drug treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes.
Experts at Wiltshire–based GW Pharmaceuticals, which specialises in the development of prescription medications based on cannabinoids – a group of powerful chemicals present in cannabis, have reported promising results from a phase two study of a novel medicine known as GWP42004.
The pre-clinical data shows that twice-daily doses of the oral cannabinoid drug had a number of anti-diabetic effects, including reduced fasting plasma glucose levels, with an increase in fasting insulin ; improved function of the insulin-producing beta cells; and increased insulin sensitivity .
The drug was also well-tolerated, with only 4 patients withdrawing from the study due to adverse events.
The researchers said the findings suggest it could help control type 2 diabetes in the same way as a relatively new class of injectable diabetes drugs called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) agonists.
Principal investigator of the study, Dr Garry Ta, consultant physician at NIHR Biomedical Research Centre in the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology &Metabolism, said: “The positive findings from this early stage exploratory study are very encouraging. Even in small numbers of patients, GWP42004 shows consistent evidence of anti-diabetic effects.
“The data clearly support advancing GWP42004 into further clinical development. If larger studies confirm these findings, GWP42004 would have the potential to offer a novel orally-administered treatment option within one of the largest therapeutic areas where there still exist serious unmet medical needs.”
Dr Stephen Wright, GW’s R&D Director, said that the company was very pleased with the promising results and added that it now plans to conduct a larger Phase II study in 2013 to “explore the clinical relevance of the desirable anti-diabetic features of GWP42004 across a range of doses”.

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