Business Week November 4, 1996 pg. 199
A Brain Shield From—Well, Marijuana
The first drug to curtail the spread of brain damage resulting from strokes and head or spinal cord injuries has entered clinical tests at six hospitals in Israel. Its key ingredient is dexanabinol, a synthetic molecule based on the active agent in marijuana. Dexanabinol was discovered six years ago by Raphael Mechoullam, a researcher at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and developed by Rehovot (Israel) research arm of Pharmos Corp. in Alacua, Fla.
Dexanabinol has two novel properties: It can cross the so-called blood- brain barrier that prevents foreign molecules from entering the brain. And once in, the drug appears to halt the brain-cell deterioration that follows a blow to the head or a stroke. In four years of animal testing, the drug produced “outstanding” results, says Michael Schickler, vice- president of Pharmos’ Israel operations. Pharmos expects clinical tests to be completed by the end of 1997. If it works, dexanabinol could hit the market by 2000.