Irish start-up secures €500k funding to explore medical benefits of cannabis

GreenLight Medicines will not be using cannabis itself during their research. Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Michael Cogley

Irish pharmaceutical start-up GreenLight Medicines has secured €500,000 in funding from a consortium of Irish investors to further its research into cannabis extracts.

The phase-two funding comes after an initial €100,000 seed investment into the company that is looking to use the marijuana extracts to cure illnesses.

GreenLight won't actually be using cannabis to carry out the research but rather CBD hemp oil, which is legal here.

CBD includes cannabinoids, the part of the plant that may be able to treat a variety of diseases.

The Wicklow-based company was founded last year by Dr James Linden, who said there is mounting evidence that cannabinoids are an effective treatment for ailments including multiple sclerosis (MS), glaucoma, arthritis, epilepsy, and cancer.

"We've spent the last 24 months developing research programmes with many Universities in Ireland - including University College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Galway and the Royal College of Surgeons - and this month sees the first tranche of research projects going live," he said.

In addition to the funding, Swiss-American firm Isodiol has pledged €1.25m in CBD hemp oil products over a five-year period to help GreenLight's research.

GreenLight is the first Irish pharma company to focus on the production and sale of molecules from cannabinoids. The business aims to become a world leader in the area and is hoping to deliver cost-effective medicine in the long term.

The company boasts a team of internationally recognised researchers and scientists, including former chairman of the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Professor David Nutt. Mr Nutt has recently been appointed as the firm's chief medical officer.

Greenlight chief financial officer Patrick Deasy explained the need for seed funding.

"Clinical trials are generally five years in duration, costing in the region of €7m to €10m per drug, therefore seed and phase-two investment has been essential in driving GreenLight's vision forward," he said.