Article by Jackie Bryant, Forbes
La Jolla, California-based Artelo Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: ARTL) recently announced that its Canadian subsidiary, Artelo Biosciences Corporation, is the recipient of a Mitacs Accelerate Grant that will allow the company to further its research on ART26.12, a product candidate for the treatment of anxiety, cancer, inflammation, and pain. Mitacs is a Canadian non-profit research organization. The grant is expected to fund 50% of expenses related to preclinical research investigating the drug ART26.12 as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders.
ART26.12 is Artelo’s designation for a pre-clinical development program that inhibits a specialized protein called “Fatty Acid Binding Protein 5” or FABP5. This protein helps to remove certain endogenous cannabinoids in the brain. By inhibiting FABP5, ART26.12 is able to increase the levels of these cannabinoids, like anandamide, directly within the brain. Anandamide is one of the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids—too little of it within the body is thought to cause increased sensitivity to stress and anxiety.
Artelo’s ART26.12 is proprietary— it is believed to be the most advanced small molecule initiative targeting FABP5 inhibition in development. Artelo has partnered with and obtained a worldwide exclusive license to the FABP5 inhibitors created at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where scientists have been working on this target since 2007. They were previously supported by research grants from the NIH and NCI. Artelo recently submitted a method of use patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office covering the use of FABP5 inhibitors for the treatment of psychological disorders such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“It has been known for decades that modulating the brain’s cannabinoid receptor system can strongly regulate feelings of anxiety,” says Dr. Steven Laviolette at University of Western Ontario, who is the principal investigator for the study. “Our current research program is focusing on the amygdala and prefrontal cortex as potential sites for fatty acid binding proteins to modulate anxiety processing.”
Laviolette says that anecdotes from cannabis users provided them with certain clues. “Cannabis is known to produce heightened anxiety in some people and to decrease anxiety in other people, often depending on the potency of THC within the cannabis product,” he says. Since his lab’s previous research has shown that activating or blocking cannabinoid receptor brain areas can control stress and anxiety, it “suggests that imbalances in endocannabinoid transmission within these brain areas are likely involved in vulnerability to anxiety-related disorders,” he explains.