University of Saskatchewan, ZYUS Life Sciences to study marijuana's effects on mental health

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ZYUS Life Sciences is partnering with the University of Saskatchewan to take a closer look at how cannabis derivatives can improve mental health.

The pre-clinical study, called Cannabis Derivatives: Therapeutic Potential in Animal Models of Brain Disorders, will be led by Yanbo Zhang, a psychiatrist and associate professor at the university.

“We are excited to partner with Dr. Zhang’s team at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine on this advanced, patient-focused, cannabinoid-based formulation project,” Brent Zettl, president and CEO of ZYUS, said in a statement. “Our new relationship with the University of Saskatchewan and commitment to this pre-clinical study further demonstrates our dedication to provide patients and health care practitioners with a scientific approach to cannabinoid-based formulations.”

The life sciences company said it plans to use its expertise in medical cannabis to help the university better understand how cannabinoids — the chemical compounds (such as CBD and THC) that make up the drug — can be used to help patients in Canada and abroad.

“Cannabinoids have long been used for medicinal purposes but there is still a lack of scientific evidence respecting the full potential of cannabinoids and their interactions,” Zhang said. “This exciting project will provide a better understanding of the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids and scientific evidence that will potentially benefit mental health patients, health care practitioners and policy makers.”

The Saskatoon-based ZYUS has been busy since acquiring a federal processing licence last year that required the company to engage in a hiring spree. “We’re ramping up for production, which also means it’s going to have a direct impact on employment,” Zettl said.

“We’ll be able to produce the equivalent of 1.2 million 50-millilitre bottles of cannabis oil … Phase two, in the same building, we’ll be able to do up to 35 million bottles of the same product in the same building.”

The company also has five clinical trials “on deck,” he said.

“We are really serious about the clinical trial pathway, as well, for the province and the cannabis space … We’re really trying to advance the science of well-being as best we can.”

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