Paving the way for the future of cannabinoid-based medicines

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May, 2024 at 9:09 am by Andre Camilleri

The University of Malta and Cannaflos Research Labs Ltd have signed a framework aimed at facilitating collaboration on pioneering research for the future of medical cannabis. 

This collaboration will include the implementation of preclinical studies over Cannabis extracts as well as joint R&D projects plus the setting up of internships and alumni placements. 

The agreement unites academics and industry experts in the development of cannabinoid-based medicines and marks a significant step towards establishing Malta as a competence for research and development in medical cannabis. It also underscores UM’s commitment to driving innovation and collaboration in the pharmaceutical industry.

Cannaflos Research Labs Ltd. is a Maltese subsidiary of Cannaflos GmbH, a German EU-GMP licensed pharmaceutical company with a focus on cannabinoid-based products. Through harmonised processes and quality standards, Cannaflos and its partners promote medicines based on cannabinoids under fair business conditions.

The company’s central objective is to develop cannabinoid-based finished drugs in the scope of two specific therapeutic areas: Orphan indications and Female Health indications. To achieve this goal, Cannaflos creates synergies along the value chain of medicinal cannabis, generating IP from plant to patient.

Cannaflos Research Labs is currently building a Research and Development competence for the development of intellectual property in 5 key areas: Cannabis sativa genetics, cannabis extraction, drug formulation, administrative routes, and digital therapeutics.

These steps in the R&D process lay the foundation for the development of finished drugs, leading up to the clinical development phase. To this end, Cannaflos Research Labs Ltd. has successfully received Business Development and Start-up financing from Malta Enterprise.

“We are proud to collaborate with University of Malta on conducting the groundwork for the future of cannabinoid-based medicine”, said Max Schmitt, CEO of Cannaflos Research Labs Ltd. “The university holds great expertise in cannabis-related research and is a key stakeholder for the cannabis hub that is forming on Malta.”

Through its various Faculties and Institutes, the University has a large number of laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art facilities which serve its teaching and research activities. 

Over the past years, UM has developed a unique research competence on Cannabis, responding to the gradual proliferation of medical recreational cannabis in Malta and Europe overall.

Through this agreement, the University will deploy its labs and expertise at the service of Cannaflos Research Labs to foster their R&D objectives, while enabling a direct knowledge exchange between academics and industry. The Corporate Research and Knowledge Transfer Office will act as an intermediary to facilitate talent placement opportunities within Cannaflos Research Labs and the medical cannabis industry overall.

Through the framework agreement, both parties are currently developing a collaboration involving various Faculties, such as the Department of Physiology & Biochemistry, led by Prof. Richard Muscat, the Department of Pharmacy, led by Prof. Lilian M. Azzopardi, who will collaborate through the Centre of Molecular Medicine and Biobanking Lab and Pharmacy labs respectively. 

Furthermore, ongoing discussions include the Faculty of Science, led by Prof. Emmanuel Sinagra, for conducting further analytical tests on phytochemical composition, microbiological presence and stability.  

Prof. Azzopardi said there certainly is a synergy in research focus between the two entities, as the Department itself has held its belief in the potential of medical cannabis to treat pain for quite a while, and is thus looking forward to collaborating with Cannaflos Research Labs. 

The agreement was signed by Prof. Alfred J. Vella, Rector of the University of Malta, and Mr Max Schmitt, co-founder and CEO of Cannaflos Research Labs and Cannaflos GmbH, in the presence of Prof. Richard Muscat and Prof. Lilian M. Azzopardi as well as Mr Gilles Vromman, Head of Business development, Mr David Mendoza, Head of Operations of Cannaflos Research Labs and Dr Adán de Salas, expert in neurobiology and cannabinoid medicine from Cannaflos Research Labs. 

Speaking at the signing ceremony, University of Malta Rector, Prof. Alfred J. Vella showed his support of this initiative that intertwines the actions of the University and of Cannaflos Research Labs Ltd. “Universities are practical beings; it’s in our interest to continue to prepare our graduates to be more employable and entrepreneurial, and in this collaboration, those factors are at play. I look forward to seeing where this collaboration takes us”, he concluded. 

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