Renew’s CEO and co-founder, Michael Mendez

In a collaboration that could lead to a new class of drugs to replace opioids and help fight the national opioid epidemic, Renew Biopharma has announced it is collaborating with Ken Mackie from the Indiana University (Bloomington) Gill Center for Biomolecular Science to help screen and develop human therapeutics using Renew’s natural and novel cannabinoid molecules in a pre-clinical drug discovery program.

The program will explore — for the first time — the efficacy of numerous molecules for medications across a wide variety of possible indications, from pain management to epilepsy and various neurodegenerative diseases. However, instead of using Cannabis plants, Renew’s microbial biosynthetic platform will produce these natural and novel cannabinoid molecules in microalgae.

Renew has been assigned or has licenses for more than 110 issued patents to produce cannabinoids in microalgae. Michael Mendez, Renew’s CEO and co-founder, led the microalgae biofuel effort as co-founder of Sapphire Energy.

Dr. Ken Mackie, from the Indiana University Gill Center for Biomolecular Science, has joined Renew’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Renew also announced the appointment of Gill Chair Dr. Ken Mackie as a member of Renew’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), effective immediately. “Dr. Mackie and the Gill Center are world renowned for their understanding of the endocannabinoid system. They bring a level of sophistication and critical scientific thinking to this space, allowing us to go from cell-based screening to preclinical models, all under one partnership,” said Mr. Mendez.

“Together we will bring cannabinoids as API’s (active pharmaceutical ingredients) to the forefront of human therapeutics. We expect this work to ultimately lead to significant improvements in human health, which is our company’s most important goal,” Mr. Mendez added.

“Our synthetic biology platform will be able to produce any of the (at least) 144 known cannabinoids in quantities and purity that Cannabis plants cannot produce. This represents a bold step in moving these molecules beyond the plants and into human clinical trials. The Gill Center’s ability to test the efficacy of these natural and novel molecules across a wide range of cell-based and preclinical models is truly unprecedented,” he said.

“I couldn’t be more excited to work with a synthetic biology company like Renew,” said Dr. Mackie, “because they can deliver conventional and novel cannabinoid molecules in amounts and purity for potential human therapeutics in a completely new and innovative way. Renew is opening up an entire new pipeline of API’s for drug discovery that can interact with the endocannabinoid system.”

“The cannabinoid space as it relates to big pharma has been plagued for decades by the stigma surrounding marijuana plants and other synthetics, but now, for the first time in a GMP (good manufacturing practices) environment, we can use the natural and novel molecules that Renew will supply to explore the possibilities for an entire new category of medicines that I’m certain will benefit human health.”

“I am honored to not only work with Renew in my capacity as a Gill Chair, but also to join their Scientific Advisory Board, where I hope to bring my particular expertise to this unique company. I am thrilled to work with Dr. Joe Noel, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Dr. Mike Burkart of the University of California San Diego, both co-founders and SAB members of Renew,” Dr. Mackie continued.