Medical cannabis: the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute centre of excellence

An image to illustrate medical cannabis and the role of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute
© iStock/belterz

An undeniable global interest in the study of medical cannabis inspired the creation of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI), the first Centre of Excellence in this field.

Located in the heart of Europe – the Czech Republic – International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI) identifies, co-ordinates, and supports global research priorities for the advancement of treatments with cannabis and cannabinoids through a multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach that incorporates innovative tools and know-how. ICCI includes a staff of global experts and a network of over 40 universities, hi-tech companies, and professional organisations from around the world. Together they serve as an international research and educational hub designed to meet the needs of the ever-growing cannabis and cannabinoids industry.

Our experts know that unleashing the true potential of cannabis and cannabinoids as medicine requires a cross-disciplinary approach that captures the current knowledge base across the fields of biomedical research, social science, life sciences, and policy research. This approach allows ICCI to identify and remove barriers to advancements and create platforms for shared knowledge. The diverse interest in cannabis and cannabinoids research spans across academia, health research institutes, private industry, governments, medical professionals, patients, patient advocacy organisations, health service providers, and product manufacturers among others.

Advancing R&D

ICCI’s primary mission is to advance research and development of cannabis therapeutics and it has established the infrastructure and expertise to do so. ICCI’s world renowned staff and advisors have identified and built the tools needed to allow for the efficient development of cannabis medications and streamlined research practices. Working with ICCI’s experts and services can save months or even years, shortening time to market and strengthening a client’s value proposition, whilst also ensuring optimal product quality for patients and surpassing standards in the industry.

ICCI continually develops innovations through various partnerships and services, and makes these innovations available to cannabis, biotech, agriculture, laboratory, and medical professional entities. The team of specialists that ICCI has assembled includes physicians, healthcare practitioners, researchers, and subject matter experts with proficiency in diverse areas including drug development, analytical chemistry, healthcare systems, health policy, and patient advocacy. They include members of scientific teams from the United Nations, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the United Nations Committee on Narcotics Drugs (UNCND) and other government bodies involved in authoring and passing global legislation, as well as leaders of diverse patient organisations.

ICCI offers a unique opportunity for everyone wanting to understand and utilise the opportunities of medical cannabis.

Services

ICCI has embarked on a mission to advance the world of medical cannabis by providing a wide range of professional services to companies and organisations, and ensuring a high quality cannabis education for medical professionals, patients, caregivers, and business professionals.

Patient focused certification

Patient Focused Certification (PFC) is ICCI’s independent certification programme designed to assess the quality of cannabis-based products. The PFC programme is cannabis-specific, and provides key groundwork and oversight for the cannabis industry and related processes.

ICCI’s PFC programme includes guidance for all areas of the cannabis industry including cultivation, processing, and laboratory analysis as well as production of medical cannabis, food, extracts, cosmetics, and other cannabis-based products. PFC ensures that an independent organisation has reviewed the cultivation and/or manufacturing process of a product or the management process of a service in order to determine that the final product complies with a specific set of standards designed to ensure safety, quality, or performance.

In 2016-17, the PFC programme conducted the world’s first independent quality testing of cannabidiol (CBD) products available in the European Union. The results of this testing confirmed an urgent need for safety standards and certification of cannabis-based products across the industry.

Contract research organisation

Under the leadership of Ethan Russo, MD, ICCI-Director of Research and Development, and in partnership with leading medical researchers and research institutes in the Czech Republic, Israel, Canada, Australia, and the USA, ICCI has tremendous experience and expertise in all aspects of medical cannabis clinical product development. ICCI incorporates the latest research and clinical innovations to meet the unique design, management and data analysis needs of medical cannabis-related clinical trials. The breadth of our partnerships allows ICCI to offer these services across multiple disease indications and phases. ICCI’s clinical development partners have amassed more than 200 completed clinical studies and another 200+ studies are on-going.

Cannabis metabolomics services

Recent developments in analytical chemistry (e.g. mass spectrometry and chromatography), bioinformatics, and advanced data analysis have enabled the rapidly-evolving field of metabolomics. ICCI offers cannabis metabolomics services to assist companies with efficient identification of optimal cannabis chemovars for their cannabis-based products, as well as ideal growth and processing methods for various medical and commercial applications.

Plant research services

ICCI has experience in all areas of cannabis research and husbandry, from deciphering the complexities of the metabolome of the plant (i.e. complete biochemical composition), to regulation of biosynthesis, genetic strategies in plant breeding, tissue culture and vegetative propagation (e.g. cloning), greenhouse grow systems, outdoor cultivation, and more.

Product formulation services

ICCI offers product formulation services through its partner laboratories. Each formulation is customised to help entrepreneurs and manufacturers to bring their product ideas to life. ICCI provides formulation services which allow clients to develop specific cannabis-based products such as extracts, tinctures, oils, creams, ointments, and cosmetics.

Accredited analytical services

ICCI’s partner laboratories are qualified, high-end facilities providing analytical and research services. All partner laboratories are accredited by national regulating institutions (according to EN ISO/IEC 17025), as well the ICCI Patient Focused Certification (PFC) programme, providing clients the security of good laboratory practices. ICCI can test and analyse the content of cannabis plants and their related products (plant material, extracts, foods, cosmetics, oils) with unmatched accuracy.

Product registration services

ICCI’s product registration services facilitate entering the market with a new cannabis product. ICCI experts can follow the product through the entire registration process, ensuring compliance to applicable regulations at each step. This service provides a stress-free registration process that saves time and money.

Big data services

ICCI utilises Big Data platforms and tools to provide a variety of research services for product manufacturers and distributors, laboratories, research institutes, medical professionals, patients, universities, and private industry.

A major challenge in designing cannabis-related clinical research is the complexity of the active compounds found in the plant and the involvement of cannabinoid receptors in almost every function of the human body. Big data tools are able to relate the acquired data to a particular diagnosis, or to a comprehensively described cannabis model. These tools allow for a better understanding of the medical cannabis consumer. They provide details on individual and potential group trends or behaviour, and match patients’ medical conditions with consolidated Big Data profiles of optimal medical cannabis treatment preparations, while maintaining the anonymity of the individual. Big data acquired directly from patients can also be compared with data provided by product manufacturers.

Consulting services

ICCI’s consulting services include the full range of skills necessary to pursue research or cannabis commerce: clinical trial protocol evaluation or generation de novo, laboratory set-up and quality assurance, market access evaluation, recommendations and strategies for selecting cannabis chemovars for specific purposes, interpretation of analyses, quality control in plant husbandry, as well as production and distribution of cannabis products.

Regulatory affairs

One of the greatest mistakes that companies often make when entering the pharmaceutical market is thinking they can take shortcuts or negotiate independently with regulatory bodies in the EU, Canada, the USA, or Japan. Unintentional errors that can slow or totally derail an otherwise promising research programme can be avoided by engaging experienced professionals in the regulatory process. ICCI’s proficiency in Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and Good Clinical Practice (GCP), and experience with the governmental agencies that oversee pharmaceutical development, offer the best opportunity for success in product development and launch to market with the fewest missteps and wasted expenditures.

Government relations

Governments around the world are considering or have already considered the establishment of a medical cannabis programme in their country. ICCI and its team of experts can navigate officials through the important details that need to be taken into account to achieve the best possible launch of their medical cannabis programme.

Investment services

ICCI’s investment services are customized to a client’s income level, circumstances and objectives. ICCI’s professional advisers focus on helping the investor meet their financial goals by organizing and managing their investments. ICCI can help explain the different investment opportunities by sharing available details and information. Once the desired area of investment is chosen, ICCI experts can help plan and manage a timeline for achieving specific goals.

Accounting

ICCI provides accounting services for clients interested in addressing the financial aspects of their business. ICCI can provide a customised assessment and financial plan tailored to individual requirements. Our comprehensive accounting services can address specific needs including financial consulting, payroll, HR, bookkeeping, tax advice, and incorporation details.

Cannabis Education

ICCI’s mission is to spread accurate knowledge about the cannabis plant and medical cannabis around the globe, therefore it has designed educational programmes for various audiences, including medical professionals, scientists, business owners, and managers, as well as patients and caregivers. ICCI recognises the particular importance of providing doctors and other health care providers with up to date, evidence-based, scientific information as well as country-specific legislative information. Having access to this information ensures medical professionals are comfortable with addressing patients’ questions about the use of medical cannabis for various medical conditions, and facilitates sound healthcare decisions related to the endocannabinoid system.

International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute
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