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UC San Diego researchers contribute to study of CBD treatment of nicotine withdrawal

CV Sciences Chief Executive Joseph Dowling stands with UC San Diego researchers Marsida Kallupi and Olivier George.
(Courtesy of CV Sciences)

Using research from UC San Diego, CV Sciences Inc. recently published a pre-clinical and proof-of-concept study on the effectiveness of cannabidiol, or CBD, treatment in reducing nicotine dependence.

“This study gives us affirmation that we are onto something exciting,” said Douglas MacKay, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for Sorrento Valley-based CV Sciences. He said he was “thrilled” to collaborate with UCSD researchers.

In the study, rats dependent on nicotine and experiencing withdrawals were treated with products containing CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis. The treatment prevented the animals from exhibiting withdrawal symptoms — such as increased pain sensitivity and weight gain — during short- and long-term nicotine restriction.

“Science grows in increments, and we have already known through animal models that CBD has an anti-withdrawal effect for things like cocaine and alcohol, so they are looking at CBD for other withdrawal symptoms related to other drugs,” MacKay said. “We also know from receptor models and pre-clinical models that CBD interacts with nicotinic receptors, so this study fills the gap between pre-clinical and animal studies by showing in animals that CBD can reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms.”

“CBD blocks inflammation and relaxes your muscles,” he added. “This will not get you high.”

The study came from CV Sciences’ pharmaceutical development division, MacKay said. It focuses on chewing tobacco because it is an area of the market in which there are few treatments.

“It is an unmet need in the pharmaceutical area, so this study and these researchers are getting a lot of attention for this study,” MacKay said. “A tactic in drug development is to find a niche with a vacant hole. We have treatments for smoking, but not treatments for chewing that are successful.”

Further, he said, the CBD industry is “in its infancy” and “the world is in need of FDA [Food and Drug Administration]-approved drugs” derived from CBD. “It’s something people are eager to see.”

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the research completed in collaboration with UC San Diego, which further validates our years of investment and hard work,” Joseph Dowling, chief executive of CV Sciences, said in a statement. “This study marked a key milestone in CV Sciences’ smokeless tobacco addiction treatment [research and development] efforts and further extends our potential product development opportunities to commercialize the world’s first and only FDA-approved treatment for smokeless tobacco addiction to address a huge unmet medical need and global health issue.”

MacKay said he could not elaborate on a schedule of next steps for the study.

In May 2020, CV Sciences received a formal notice of issuance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its patent application for proprietary CBD and nicotine formulation for treating smokeless tobacco addiction. The patent covers methods of treating smokeless tobacco addiction by administering pharmaceutical formulations containing CBD and nicotine.

CV Sciences also has filed corresponding patent applications to allow the company to seek similar patent protection in other key markets around the world. ◆