Clinical-stage pharmaceutical company Zynerba Pharmaceuticals (ZYNE) announced that researchers at The Scripps Research Institute and the University of Maryland have generated preclinical data from a study funded by NIH grants that suggest potential value in using its transdermal cannabidiol (CBD) (ZYN002) to reduce the risk of relapse among recovering drug and alcohol addicts.
The study results were published a paper entitled, ‘Unique Treatment Potential of Cannabidiol for the Prevention of Relapse to Drug Use: Preclinical Proof of Principle’ (Gonzalez-Cuevas, G et al.) in Neuropsychopharmacology.
“Remaining drug-free is a constant battle for former substance abusers, and their susceptibility to stress and anxiety can increase their vulnerability for relapse,” said Dr. Friedbert Weiss, the investigator for this study and Professor, Department of Neuroscience at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. “These preclinical data are interesting as they show that we may be able to use transdermally-delivered CBD to impact multiple dimensions of relapse, namely benefit across a number of vulnerability states and effects that are maintained beyond the brief treatment period. CBD is broadly active and these data provide continued evidence that transdermal CBD may have therapeutic potential in a number of neurological disorders and conditions, including prevention of relapse.”
Weiss and his research associate Gustavo Gonzalez-Cuevas tested the CBD gel on rats that had demonstrated their addiction to alcohol or cocaine. They applied the compound once a day for a week to the rat’s skin. The researchers reported that CBD effectively reduced the tendency to relapse back to alcohol or cocaine when provoked by stress and drug cues. The study also found that the CBD reduced anxiety and impulsivity in the drug-experienced rats. In addition to the immediate results, researchers found that five months after the initial therapy ended, the rates still showed that their relapse tendencies were still reduced.
“The efficacy of the cannabinoid [CBD] to reduce reinstatement in rats with both alcohol and cocaine — and, as previously reported, heroin — histories predicts therapeutic potential for addiction treatment across several classes of abused drugs,” says Weiss. “The results provide proof of principle supporting the potential of CBD in relapse prevention along two dimensions: beneficial actions across several vulnerability states, and long-lasting effects with only brief treatment.” He goes on to say that “Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons. Therefore, effects such as these observed with CBD that concurrently ameliorate several of these are likely to be more effective in preventing relapse than treatments targeting only a single state.”
While the news is encouraging for Zynerba, investors seem to want to see real results for a formal clinical study. The authors of the study believe that insight into the ways that CBD manifests these effects in future studies could create new opportunities for using various CBD compounds to prevent addicts from relapsing and keep them clean. A positive for the entire category.
Zynerba stock was lately trading at $8.85, down from its 52-week high of $25.95 following a slew of less than stellar study results. Eight analysts cover the stock with an average price target of $17.69 according to Yahoo Finance. Several raised their ratings following the stock price plunge.