Science Catches Up with Cannabis: New Genetic Test Empowers Physicians to Prescribe Medical Cannabis with Confidence

Science Catches Up with Cannabis: New Genetic Test Empowers Physicians to Prescribe Medical Cannabis with Confidence
Science Catches Up with Cannabis: New Genetic Test Empowers Physicians to Prescribe Medical Cannabis with Confidence

Canadian patients are increasingly turning to medical cannabis for relief.  As of June 2016, there were approximately 75,000 Canadians registered to purchase medical cannabis from a licensed producer and that grew to over 200,000 a year later.  While patient demand is evident, the physician community is looking for more scientific evidence before they embrace the widespread recommendation of cannabis for use as a medicine. 

There is a need to address the primary areas of concern for physicians and to bring increased certainty and clarity when prescribing.  For that reason, MedReleaf Corp. (TSX: LEAF), a leading Canadian medical cannabis producer, is introducing a ground-breaking, patent-pending, new genetic test called ReleafDxTM. This novel test analyzes a patient's DNA and health conditions to provide physicians with answers to two key questions: 1) what dosage should be prescribed; and 2) what cannabis product will work best for each individual.

"Physicians are getting requests from their patients for medical cannabis for a variety of ailments and symptoms, but comfort with prescribing it varies from doctor to doctor," says Dr. Andrew Feifer, Surgical Oncologist, researcher and founder of the Trillium Health Partners Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic, and medical advisor to MedReleaf. "Having a genetic test that provides objective evidenced-based guides to physicians on strain and dosage provides an individualized and systematic approach to recommending safe and effective treatment programs, and that's what physicians have been waiting for."

Through extensive research, MedReleaf has translated human genetic information related to how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are metabolized to help predict better health outcomes for patients.  ReleafDxTM analyzes biomarkers within known metabolic pathways to allow physicians to identify patients that may metabolize cannabis more slowly or quickly than normal. Knowing this information will help minimize the chance of an adverse reaction and maximize the likelihood of a positive effect.

"We have heard loud and clear from physicians across the country that there is a need to infuse more scientific rigour into the prescribing process. Given MedReleaf's emphasis on discovery and innovation, we felt it was important to work towards a solution," says Neil Closner, CEO, MedReleaf.  "We have been working on this test for a few years and the data we have gathered and analyzed across thousands of patients has enabled us to remove much of the guesswork out of selecting the right cannabis solution for each patient based on their own individual genetic profile."

While there are safe methods used today to prescribe medical cannabis, they largely involve starting slowly and at lower doses, and then working to adjust the dosing as needed. The ReleafDxTM test closes the gap between uncertainty and predictability by leveraging genetic data and treatment outcomes to inform more accurate product recommendations.

"Genetic tests are a part of the growing trend towards personalized medicine across the health care system," says Dr. George Charames,PhD, FACMG, Assistant Professor at the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, and geneticist who co-developed ReleafDxTM. "By applying scientifically validated genetic testing methodologies to medical cannabis, we can ensure patient-specific information enables physicians to prescribe the most appropriate dose, while minimizing risk of side effects."

Dynacare, a LabCorp company, offering the largest and most advanced menu of diagnostic and screening tests in Canada and one of Canada's largest certified genetic testing laboratories, will manage the sample analysis and results reporting.  The test is conducted by a simple cheek swab in the doctors' office or at one of over 200 Dynacare Laboratory and Health Services Centres across Canada. Samples are sent to Dynacare for analysis and once testing is complete, results are returned to the physician with recommendations on what dose of MedReleaf's proprietary products best suits the patients' unique genetic profile. MedReleaf will offer ReleafDxTM to physicians across Canada free of charge, including the facilitation of sample collection and results reporting.

ReleafDxTM will be available across Canada as of January 2018.

About MedReleaf Corp.

MedReleaf sets The Medical Grade Standard™ for cannabis in Canada and around the world.  The first and only ICH-GMP and ISO 9001 certified cannabis producer in North America, MedReleaf is a R&D-driven company dedicated to patient care, scientific innovation, research and advancing the understanding of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.  Sourced from around the world and perfected in one of two state of the art facilities in Ontario, MedReleaf delivers a variety of premium products to patients seeking safe, consistent and effective medical cannabis.

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