The Israeli scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is a pioneer in the science surrounding cannabis. As early as the 1960s, he isolated the cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
In autumn of 2019, the scientist then announced that he had discovered a new synthetic cannabinoid. According to him, this is more potent than CBD or THC. After several months of testing, Mechoulam and his team of researchers found that the new compound called cannabidiol methyl ester (EPM301) could be effective in the treatment of inflammation, nausea and anxiety.
Together with his research team at the US based biotech company EPM, he patented the new compound. EPM301 is the synthetic version of a natural acid found in the cannabis plant. It has long been known that the cannabis plant contains numerous acids, such as CBDA or THCA, and that these can be very effective. However, these acids are very unstable.
Modification and Stabilisation of Acids
The instability of the acids makes it difficult to isolate them from the cannabis plant so that they can be used for medical purposes. However, Mechoulam and EPM seem to have found a way to modify and also stabilise them. The researchers used an esterification process to accomplish this. This means that two chemicals combine to form the stable ester compound.
According to a media report, Mechoulam explained that EPM had developed a method “to work with the original substances of cannabis”. He told Forbes magazine:
“So, while everybody is discussing THC and CBD, these cannabinoids are actually a secondary substance; they only appear later in the plant. Originally there is an acid that appears in the plant, and those acids are these mysterious worlds of compounds that are much more potent than cannabinoids.”
The Therapeutic Potential of the New Cannabinoid
In recent months, Mechoulam and EPM have started to explore the therapeutic potential of the new cannabinoid EPM301. Preliminary results of the research suggest that the cannabinoid may be able to relieve anxiety and suppress nausea without causing side effects. EPM301 is also believed to be effective against inflammation. Further research, in particular clinical trials, is needed to confirm these initial positive results.