Australia’s Impression Healthcare Limited (ASX:IHL) has announced it has commenced its first clinical trial involving cannabinoids – an animal study related to sepsis associated acute respiratory distress syndrome (‘SAARDS’).
Severe sepsis (aka septic shock) involves an excessive inflammatory response to infectious pathogens. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a complication of severe sepsis and has a high mortality rate. According to Impression Health Care, SAARDS is the leading cause of death associated with COVID-19 coronavirus infection.
When the body detects threatening bacteria or viruses, the immune system kicks into gear. Sepsis occurs when the immune system overreacts to an infection and produces excess levels of cytokines. This can escalate to what’s known as a “cytokine storm” that ultimately damages organs, including the lungs – and SAARDS is a result.
One of Impression’s drug candidates is IHL-675A, a combination drug that comprised of cannabidiol (CBD) and a medication that has seen a lot of attention recently, hydroxychloroquine (‘HCQ’). Hydroxychloroquine has been in use for years to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. More recently, it has been touted as a potential weapon in the battle against COVID-19.
In April this year, IHL filed a provisional patent over IHL-675A for SAARDS.
Impression Healthcare’s animal study involving rats will delve into IHL-675A’s mechanisms of inflammation dampening by gauging cytokine levels following the induction of sepsis – gotta feel for the rats involved, it’s not going to be much fun for them.
The trials will have two stages. The first stage involves escalating doses of IHL-675A and an assessment of responses to individual components. The second stage involves investigating specific combinations of CBD and HCQ to help gauge optimal inflammation dampening response of the IHL-675A combination drug.
“There is currently no registered pharmacotherapy (drug) treatment for SAARDS,” states Impression Healthcare. “However, the global medical community continues to investigate numerous drug treatments in its search for a new standard of care in response to COVID-19 coronavirus.”
Impression Healthcare was originally a manufacturer and supplier of custom-fit mouthguards, an activity it continues today – but not for much longer. Yesterday the company announced it would discontinue the sale of oral devices by the end of this month, enabling it to focus resources on cannabinoid sales and development activities. IHL started taking an interest in medical cannabis in 2018.
In March this year, the company announced it had acquired CBD inhalers that would be made available for purchase in Australia under the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA’s) Special Access Scheme (SAS).